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What the Spartacist League 
Really Stands For 

a self-exposure 
by James Robertson 



(THE SPEECH THE SL WOULDN'T PRINT) 



with an Introduction by Communist Cadre 



A COM/NISTCADRE PAMPHLET ! 







41 rmtffi 



INTRODUCTION 



This pamphlet reproduces virtually in its entirety a, public presentation given 
by James Robertson, the leading central committee member of the Spartacist League 
(SL) on January 29, 1977. Also reproduced is the greater part of the comments and 
questions which followed. Robertson's speech was given at a public forum called 
by the SL under the heading, "Towards the Rebirth of the Fourth International". The 
meeting was held on the Columbia University campus in New York City. 

Political tendencies and organizations often make pamphlets or centerpiece 
newspaper articles from verbatim texts of speeches given by leading members. In the 
case of the January 29 presentation by Robertson the SL did not, although before 
and after this date the SL reproduced speeches of lesser figures in their tendency 
in their party press. The SL also had a past practice of making transcripts of SL 
speakers' presentations available to the public. In this case the SL declined 
requests for such transcripts. 

What is the SL Hiding? 

Why the departure from past and present practice in this case? The reader 
will soon see why. The Robertson speech of January 29 was a truly scandalous 
performance on the part of someone who has been a self-identified Marxist for some 
thirty years or more (see Appendix A) . But despite the fact that the SL has 
attempted to "cover up" the speech (see Appendix B) — which is certainly an implicit 
acknowledgement of the political embarrassment incurred by Robertson's presentation — 
the SL has nevertheless refused to criticize Robertson publicly or disavow the more 
noxious aspects of his performance. The SL even took the face-saving measure of 
publishing in Workers Vanguard (the SL's weekly organ) a journalistic news report 
of the January 29 meeting, quoting some innocuous passages from Robertson's remarks 
but devoting most of the article to a cleaned- up paraphrased summary. 

Robertson Presents the SL's True Political Face 

But there is a very good reason why the SL cannot repudiate Robertson's per- 
formance of January 29. It goes deeper than the not insignificant fact that Robert- 
son is the leader and guiding personality of the SL. For despite the great deal that 
was personally idiosyncratic in Robertson's speech, without question he presented 
the real politics of the SL in a bold and unashamed style. He made no attempt to 
hide the political essence and method- that usually remains well behind the some- 
times pedestrian and sometimes torturous attempts of the SL to give itself a Marxist 
and Trotskyist veneer. For the SL to disown this speech, it would have to repudiate 
its own past, present, and future. 

Communist Cadre (CTC) challenged the SL to reproduce this speech (see Appendix 
F) . The SL declined and CTC here makes good our promise to publish the speech 
ourselves . 

The contents of Robertson's speech and subsequent comments can be divided into 
two categories. The first is the usual presentation and defense of the politics of 
the SL made unusually interesting by the especially unguarded formulations used by 
Robertson — most notably on the workers' state question (see Appendix C) .The second 
is the unrelieved and uninterrupted string of comments that can only be described 
as national chauvinist and sexist in the extreme. What can one say of a man who 
claims to be a revolutionary and who publicly refers to the Albanian peasants as 
"goatfuckers"? Who complains of the poor showing made by an SL candidate to student 
office even though "we ran a very pretty girl"? Who claims to be a champion of the 



exploited and oppressed and yet characterizes the gasta rbeiters ("guest workers") 
from southern Europe as incapable of anything except "screaming for the popular 
front"? Who claims that Jewish merchants in the black ghettos charge higher 
prices because they are"beihg. ripped off by all the black kids"? And what can 
one say of the SL membership who did not sit through this shameless performance 
in embarrassed silence, but who roared their approval at every turn, cheering 
Robertson on to the next indecency, to the next slap at the oppressed? (See Appendix D) 

Why We Have Published Robertson's Speech 

Some in the left may consider this pamphlet to be much ado about something 
not very important, as sensationalist, or perhaps even demagogic (the last will 
be the response of the SL) . We do not think so. 

Communist Cadre is a Trotskyist organization. We believe that we are the 
only Trotskyist organization in the US, a fact which does not give us as much cause 
for pride as cause for concern over the retarded development of the vanguard. 
We seek to build a real Trotskyist working class party of mass proportions in the 
US. We seek to build a new communist International on a real Trotskyist basis. 
Since the Socialist Workers Party long ago passed over to reformism, and the 
Workers' League dwindled into obscurity and sectarian isolation, the SL is 
the "hegemonic" contender to the name of Trotskyism in the US today among the 
various brands of revisionist Trotskyism. The SL is the jnajp£ organizational^ 
3P<L EPi^S^i obstac le within_the_lef t to the task of building the Trotskyist 
vanguard. And we seek to eliminate this obstacle through polemic and political 
struggle. Hence this pamphlet. 

The damage the SL does is two- fold. Those sympathetic to Trotskyism which 
the SL recruits or influences are badly miseducated and most often ruined for 
revolutionary purposes. And those hostile to Trotskyism while claiming to be 
communists — the Stalinists and Maoists — are presented by the SL with such a travesty 
and caricature, such a revision of Trotskyism, as to provide a very easy target 
indeed. The SL's blatantly anti-Leninist line on the national question, its deep 
hostility to the reality of the dictatorship of the proletariat in the USSR, China, 
Cuba, etc., provide grist for the Stalinist mill and give credence to the old 
lies and slanders that the denial of the "two stages" theory in Permanent Revolution 
means no support for national liberation struggles and that denial of Socialism in 
One Country means no support for the dictatorship of the proletariat. Leftists 
breaking in a progressive direction from Stalinism and Maoism can be lost for good 
to Trotskyism precisely because of the mockery of Trotskyism that the SL has made. 
The SL must be exposed as neither Leninist nor Trotskyist, it must be exposed as the 
revisionist falsifier of Trotskyism that it is, if genuine Trotskyism is to 
advance in the US. Hopefully, the wide distribution of Robertson's January 29 
speech will go a long way in aiding the completion of this task. 



APPENDIX A : 
ROBERTSON'S PERSONAL 
POLITICAL HISTORY 



Robertson began his political career in the Shachtmanite movement. When the 
Socialist Workers Party (SWP) threw its whole-hearted support to the bourgeois 
democratic counter-revolutionary Hungarian uprising of 1956 from the very first day 
(it is important to remember that the SWP took years to recognize the deformed 
workers* state in Hungary, a position which was not taken until 1950), Robertson, 
along with Tim Wohlforth, thought (correctly) that their formal differences with 
the SWP on the "Russian question" had been thereby eliminated in practice by the 
SWP's defeatist stance with regard to the Soviet intervention. Both quickly joined 
the SWP while continuing to maintain that the Soviet Union and its "ancillary 
regimes" were bureaucratic collectivist. To borrow Robertson's phrase, "it was 
just because the SWP sold out that he threw in with these renegades." 

Robertson and Wohlforth provided the old Cannon leadership with relief against 
the left opposition of the Marcy-Copeland faction, which had advocated military 
support to the Soviet intervention in Hungary, arguing from the counter-revolution- 
ary character of the uprising. Robertson later, along with Wohlforth and Shane 
Mage, formed the Revolutionary Tendency, an opposition bloc against the SWP leader- 
ship of the early 1960s. This opposition was of a contradictory character, progres- 
sive insofar as it opposed the growing electoral reformism and petty bourgeois 
orientation of the SWP which by that time had dropped its trade union work, but 
reactionary insofar as that opposition took exception to the attempt of the SWP to 
solidarize with the Cuban revolution, although without question that attempted 
solidarity was badly opportunized by popularity chasing and uncritical political 
support for Castro and the Cuban government. 

Robertson and Wohlforth parted company roughly at this time, both leaving the 
SWP. Robertson founded the Spartacist League, Wohlforth the Workers League, the 
latter differentiating itself from the SL by, among other things, its position that 
Cuba is capitalist. In retrospect, seeing the subsequent development of the SL and 
SWP, it can be said Robertson did carry out a left split. But so much revisionist 
method and politics were brought along, both from the Shachtmanite past and from 
the bankrupt SWP of the 1950s, into the SL that whatever left impetus it had in its 
beginnings was not enough to assure either Robertson's or the SL's development 
beyond an essentially sterile and abstentionist alternative to the opportunist 
United Secretariat re-unification of 1963. Robertson remains to this day basically 
an unreformed left Shachtmanite. 



APPENDIX B ; 

THE SL COVERS ITS TRACKS 
AND SLANDERS THE LRP 



A large part of the SL's cover-up has been designed not only to avoid any 
honest account of the January 29 meeting, not only to evade questions about Robert- 
son's speech, but to slander those who did attempt to provide the left public with 
an honest account. 

In the September 16, 1977 issue of Workers Vanguard the following letter 
appeared : 

Workers Vanguard, New York 
To Whom It May Concern: 

Number 145 of your paper, dated 18 February 1977, carried a letter 
signed by me in the name of the Bay Area Group for the Defense of Paranagua 
and Pilla, dated San Francisco, 5 February 1977, expressing thanks to you, 
the Partisan Defense Committee, and the Spartacist League for support work 
on the Paranagua-Pilla case. 

Today I chanced to read the account of the January 29th meeting in New 
York at which Jim Robertson spoke, in number 3 of the Socialist Voice. 

I can only say that I am deeply shocked at the tone of Robertson's 
remarks as reported by the Socialist Voice, and that I know I speak for the 
majority of the activists on the Paranagua-Pilla case when I say that, while 
I do not retract the statements in my letter in WJ Number 145, I feel very 
strongly that whether or not the facts as stated in Socialist Voice are true, 
the Spartacist League owes the whole left of the U.S. a full, satisfactory 
accounting of the comments of Robertson at the January 29th meeting. Further- 
more, I must say that if the account published in Socialist Voice is true, 
Robertson should immediately retire himself or be retired from any further 
leadership activity in the socialist and workers' movements in the U.S., at 
least until he has attained some kind of responsibility. I feel obliged to 
let you know I find the remarks reported from Robertson by the Socialist 
Voice a great deal more alarming on their face than anything reported in 
France from the lips of Vargal 

Yours, 

Stephen S. 

San Francisco, 18 March 1977 

How did the editors of Workers Vanguard reply to this obviously serious state- 
ment from someone who does not regard himself as an opponent of the SL? They 
replied with a snide and, in its own way, vicious joke: 

WV replies: If you believe what you read about the Spartacist League in 
Socialist Voice, you'll love the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. 

Now the Protocols of the Elders of 2ion was a late 19th century ultra-reactio- 
nary, anti-Semitic tract probably produced by the Czarist secret police. And the 
Socia list Voice is the journal of the League for the Revolutionary Party (LRP). With 
one sentence the SL compares the publication of a moderate, third campist, but with- 
out doubt leftist political group with the worst sort of pre-fascist race-hate li- 
terature. With one sentence the SL implies that the account in the Socialist Voice 
is lying and slanderous, so much so that it does not merit a reply, either generally 
or point by point. 

What exactly did the LRP say in the Socialist Voice? In their spring 1977 
issue (no. 3) appeared an article, "The Spartacist League's Scandalous Chauvinism", 
in which Robertson's remarks of January 29 were summarized and quoted in the follow- 
ing passage: 



Robertson spoke for ninety minutes, giving what was heralded as an. analy- 
sis of the world conjunctural situation. It was somewhat incredible that the 
leader of a group which characterizes Russia, China and similar societies as 
"workers' states" had nothing at all to say about most of them — with one ex- 
ception. But that political oversight quickly paled into insignificance. In 
the course of his meandering travelogue, Robertson delivered a series of chau- 
vinist epithets that insulted the revolutionary capacities of the working clas- 
ses everywhere and denigrated almost every non-white, non-American and non- 
English speaking people that got in his way. His theme was to blame the work- 
ing masses for the weak state of the revolutionary movement. 

Robertson warmed up with the sneering comment that the Vietnamese. victory- 
over imperialism was a "big deal" and was "not really as important as the de- 
feat of the workers in Indonesia" because "not many people live in Indochina." 
After this cavalier dismissal of 56 million Indochinese people and a struggle 
which has had enormous consequences for imperialism, he really got going. 

"The Greek population exists by selling its children or selling Swiss 
watches to one another." 

Albania, the only "workers* state" Robertson saw fit to mention, was a 
nation of "goat-fuckers". 

"Northern Europe is dripping with fat," so the workers of this region can 
be "bought off with slight adjustments." Similarly, the foreign workers in 
these countries can also be bought off and when deported would "only end up 
supporting popular fronts . " 

Canada was not worth considering {although the Spartacist tendency has a 
group in that country) because it is only the "fringe on the surrey extending 
fifty miles north of the U.S. border." Non-English speaking North America 
(Mexico and Quebec, with the most advanced class struggles on the continent) 
was specifically ignored in this talk, which was supposed to deal with the 
world revolutionary setting. 

As for the U.S., the one country where Robertson believes that Trotskyism 
has an "unbroken tradition," it too "is a jaded country" which, like Northern 
Europe, "drips with fat if you exclude the Negro (sic) from the statistics." 
But Robertson saved his vilest spleen for the American blacks :"The black 
population burned down the ghettoes and it ' s now waiting for the Jews to come 
back and open up the drug stores . " High prices charged by storekeepers in 
the ghetto were attributed to the fact that "black kids rip them off," And 
that was his entire analysis on this subject, from beginning to end. 

Members of the LRP were present at the January 29 meeting as were members of 
Communist Cadre. The quotes in the LRP account were taken from notes or memory. Was 
the account in Socialist Voice as false as the SL says? The speech and comments re- 
produced in this pamphlet were taken from a taped recording of Robertson's and all 
other speakers' remarks. The reader will soon see that the account in Socialist 
Voice was honest and accurate. 

Now the LRP is one of those groupings that, while it calls itself Trotskyist, is 
in fact a variety of the Shachtmanite tendency and has a state capitalist position 
on the Soviet Union and all the other workers' states. And once the LRP got past a 
simple account o£ Robertson's remarks, the article in the Socialist Voice went com- 
pletely off the track by attempting to explain Robertson's and the SL's chauvinism 
as derived from the SL's defensist position on the workers' states. Unfortunately 
the SL's formally correct position on the Soviet Union, China, etc. (a position 
which is only a paper one, however, and which we do not believe will withstand the 
tests of repression or war), did not prevent the SL from slandering the LRP; nor did 
the LRP's third campist politics prevent them from being far more honest in their 
polemic . 



APPENDIX C; 
WORKERS' STATE AND 
POLITICAL REVOLUTION 



At the Jan. 29 meeting Communist Cadre distributed a leaflet entitled "Build 
A New Communist International On A Real Trotsky ist Basis" in which we wrote: 

"The SL has introduced an open revision of Trotskyism by depicting the 
political revolution as the smashing of the Sta3.injst State (see 
Spartacist No. 8, Nov. -Dec. 1966) , rather than the revolutionary over- 
throw of the Stalinist governmental regime and the democratic reform 
of the workers' state." 

How did Robertson reply to our polemic during his remarks? He said: 

"...I think I see what the differences are between us. They speak 
of how we have a bad position of the political revolution as 'the 
smashing of the Stalinist state, rather than the revolutionary over- 
throw of the Stalinist governmental regime and the democratic reform 
of the workers' state.' Now Trotsky was right in '33-34 when he came 
out no longer for reform, comrades. It is necessary to destroy the 
Stalinist state apparatus: that is why it is called a political revol- 
ution, and not a reform. That means, in the Soviet Union and ancillary 
regimes, that the state apparatus has to be swept away by the insurgent 
power of the proletariat. And that is our difference, I think." 

(Robertson, 1/29/77) 
The difference, however, is not only with Communist Cadre but with Leon 

Trotsky as well. This is what Trotsky wrote against Shachtman during the 1940 

factional struggle in the SWP: 

"We foresaw not only the degeneration of the Third International but 
also the possibility of its regeneration. Only the German experience 
of 1929-33 convinced us that the Comintern was doomed and nothing 
could regenerate it. . . 

"But we did not draw the same conclusions concerning the Soviet State. 
Why? The Third International was a party, a selection of people on the 
basis of ideas and methods. This selection became so fundamentally 
opposed to Marxism that we were obliged to abandon all hope of regener- 
ating it. But the Soviet state is not only an ideological selection, 
it is a complex of social institutions which continues to persist in 
spite of the fact that the ideas of the bureaucracy, are now almost the 
opposite of the ideas of the October revolution. That is why we did not 
renounce the possibility of regenerating the Soviet state by political 
revolution . " (our emphasis) .-' 

( In Defense of Marxism , Leon Trotsky 
Pathfinder Press, pgs. 37-38) 

In 1933 Trotsky wrote "The Class Nature of the Soviet State" and it was in 
this brilliant and seminal article that Trotsky first announced the new perspective 
of political revolution in the Soviet Union. How did Trotsky pose the question? 
Consider the following quotes, all taken from this article: 

"...how approach the reorganization of the Soviet state?" 

"No normal 'constitutional' ways remain to remove the ruling clique ." 

"In any case, what will be involved is not an armed insurrection 
against the dictatorship of the proletariat but the removal of a malig- 



nant growth upon it. -.a real civil war could develop not between the 
Stalinist bureaucracy and the resurgent proletariat, but only between 
the proletariat and the active forces of counter-revolution." 

"The fundamental condition for the only rock-bottom reform of the 
Soviet state is the victorious spread of the world revolution." 

(Trotsky, Iflritings, 1933-34 . 
Ml emphases in above quotes ours.) 

In The Revolution Betrayed Trotsky wrote : 

"Let us first assume that the Soviet bureaucracy is overthrown by 
a revolutionary party... such a party would begin with the restoration 
of democracy in the trade unions and the Soviets . . . together with the 
masses, and at their head, it would carry out a_ ruthless purgation of 
the state appa ratus." (our emphasis) 

Now, reorganisation, rock-bottom reform, purgation mean one thing. "Smashing 
the Stalinist state apparatus" means something quite different. Some SL members 
have attempted to wiggle out of this blatant difference with Trotsky by arguing 
that "state" means one thing and "state apparatus" something el^e. The state, 
state apparatus, state machine, state power are all synonymous terms used inter- 
changeably by Leninists and Trotskyists. During the discussion period of the 
January 29 meeting Communist Cadre called Robertson to order on the SL's use of 
the term "Stalinist state" pointing out that it came right off the cover of 
Shar-.htman's notorious book, The Bureaucratic Revolution : the rJ. se_ of the 
Stalinist State . Robertson replied to us : 

"Now. I simply say, I vacate the formulation/" the Stalinist state"-CTC/ 
Now, every week I read articles in Workers V anguard /weekly organ of the 
SL/ and I vacate the formulations ; I disagree with them. But so what? The 
Stalinist state apparatus must be destroyed. . .that apparatus ,_those means 
of rule, all those ministries, all that military apparatus /! !!_/ , every- 
thing is designed to take the social surplus away from the Russian work- 
ing people and squander it in the hands of the bureaucracy. And that has 
to be destroyed and done away with..." 

(Robertson, 1/29/77. Emphasis ours.) 

As one can see, Robertson really vacated very little. So if the term "Stalin- 
ist state" or "Stalinist state apparatus" is discarded, the SL's position on 
political revolution is this and this only: the Soviet degenerated workers' state 
and all the deformed workers' states must be smashed. Trotsky's position and, with 
him, Communist Cadre's position, is something quite different. We quote from 
our publication Hungary 1956:a Trotskyist Defense of the Soviet Intervention 
(pages 17-18): 

"Trotsky came out for political revolution in 1933. He first gave ex- 
pression to the new orientation in "The Class Nature of the Soviet State." 
The axis of the question is not , as the SL would have us believe, that 
prior to 1933 Trotsky believed the Soviet state could be reformed, but 
that after 1933 he believed it must be smashed — no, not at all. The 
essential question was: peaceful reform or violent struggle . Until 1933 
Trotsky believed that the Soviet party (and the Comintern) could be internr- 
ally and peacefully reformed through the political struggle of factions, 



and that a revolutionary government and Soviet democracy could be re** - 
turned to the Soviet Union upon the peaceful reform of the party. From 
1933 Trotsky believed that the Stalinized Comintern and Stalinized So- 
viet Communist Party were beyond reform and that a new international, 
and with it a new party in the Soviet Union, must be built. Not that 
the Soviet state was unref ormable , but that the Soviet Communist Party 
of Stalin was beyond reform! 

"And what was the task of the new party that must be built in the 
Soviet Union? That party must strive for power, governmental power, 
must strive to overthrow the Stalinist party and place itself at the head 
of the workers 1 state. And how to do this? Not through peaceful means, 
for the bureaucracy has strangled proletarian democracy, but through an 
insurrectionary uprising once the majority of workers have been won to the 
new party. This is how Trotsky developed the question." 

The SL position that the 1956 Hungarian uprising was the political revolution 
demands the complementary position that the political revolution is the "smashing 
of the Stalinist state," for in Hungary in 1956 the deformed workers' state 
was surely smashed. 

Communist Cadre has repeatedly asserted in our polemics that the SXi in fact 
takes a neo-Shachtmanite position on the workers' states. By that we mean a posi- 
tion which, while attempting to conform to the bare formula of Trotskyism's uncon- 
ditional defense of the workers' states, has filled that formula with the deepest 
Shachtraanite hostility to the reality of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The 
SL retains the letter only to better violate the spirit. But even here Robertson's 
repeated assertion that the "Stalinist state apparatus must be smashed" shows how 
far the SL has revised and departed from the unambiguous statements of Trotsky 
that the Soviet state was not beyond reform but could be regenerated through politi- 
cal revolution. 

Robertson's remarks on the question of political revolution and defense of 
the workers' state, which is, after all, only and just what he calls the "Stalinist 
state apparatus," shows just how much he personally deserves to be identified 
as an unref orraed Shachtmanite. For it was Shachtman who coined the term "Stalinist 
state" and it is from such a conception that Robertson's notion of political 
revolution derives. For if the state apparatus is the state of the Stalinist bureau- 
cracy and not the state of the proletariat, what else can Robertson do but call 
for smashing it ? 

We also wish to call attention to the seemingly meaningless and self-contra- 
dictory phrase, "Stalinist state apparatus resting on the body of the Russian 
workers' state." By this phrase Robertson makes clear that he identifies by "Stal- 
inist state apparatus" what Marxists have always meant when we say, state, 
state power, state machine, state apparatus — namely, the special bodies of armed 
men for the suppression of one class by another. And when he says "body of the 
Russian workers 'state" he revises workers' state to mean not the police, army, 
courts, prisons, not the armed means of defense and repression, but rather the 
country, the economy, the society as a whole. Elsewhere, we have pointed out 
the origins of this revision. («*« JHungary c .1956 ; a Trotskyist Defense of the Soviet 
Intejiryentipny pages 15-16.) 



10 



PFLP had state power it would behave in the same chauvinist manner towards non-Arab 
minorities as have... its foes in Tel Aviv toward the Palestinians." 

Not only will the SL not defend the PFLP militants against the Israeli comman- 
dos, the SL refuses to condemn the Israelis for invading Uganda, which despite Idi 
Amin is after all an oppressed nation. The SL says the left must not be drawn into 
the "hypocritical chorus" that denounced Israel for its aggression against Uganda 
and for violating Uganda's sovereignty and territory. The SL explains to us, you 
see, that "Unlike the right of nations to self-determination, * national sovereignty' 
is not a bourgeois democratic demand that Marxists support. Moreover, Uganda's 
'national sovereignty' was subordinated by Idi Amin's complicity with the hijackers;" 
Outrageous I Since Israel only invaded Uganda for a few hours but did not annex 
Ugandan territory, the bourgeois democratic rights of the oppressed Ugandans were 
not violated! The SL will not defend the PFLP or Uganda against Israel but claims 
not to support the Israeli raid after terming it "brilliant" and "audacious". Can 
this neutrality which obviously favors the Zionists be Marxism? Or Leninism? Or 
Trotskyism? We do not think so. 

(For above SL quotes referring to Entebbe, see Workers Vanguard , July 16, 1976.) 



APPEMDIX D s 
THE SL'S AHTI-LENINIST LINE 017 THE NATIONAL QUESTION 



Communist Cadre has repeatedly asserted that the SL in its attitude towards 
the struggles of the oppressed and the colonial peoples and nations takes an essen- 
tially anti-Leninist line. While Leninists and Trotskyists have always insisted 
upon the necessity of unconditional military defense of the struggles of the op- 
pressed against their oppressors, the SL has sought to evade this communist neces- 
sity in favor of a comfortable neutrality. During the civil war in Lebanon, where 
the Lebanese left and Palestinian Resistance fought a life and death struggle with 
the reactionary alliance of Phalangists, National Liberals, and Moslem Brotherhood, 
the SL took a position of open neutrality. The SL invented the reactionary, anti- 
Marxist formula of "intercommunal warfare" in order to call for defeatism on both 
sides in that "sordid civil war", as the SL termed it. And while calling for de- 
featism on all sides , the SL also came out for the right of all communities to self- 
defense — including those politically and militarily organized by and under the lea- 
dership of the Phalange, which even the SL characterizes as "Nazi-like". 

This stance is paralleled for Northern Ireland , where the SL advocates the for- 
mation of a trade union militia drawn from Catholics and Protestants in order to 
defend both communities — Irish and Protestant settler — against "sectarian violence" . 
While this sounds very reasonable and evenhanded, it translates into these terms in 
political practice: the SL advocates the defense of right-wing Orange settler mili- 
tants and strongholds against the terror of the Provisional IRA (which the SL cha- 
racterizes as "right-wing nationalist") and other Irish liberationist organizations. 
In Israel the SL champions the right of the Hebrew-speaking people, i.e., Zionist 
settlers, to self-determination; the SL,as the reader will see from the discussion 
following Robertson's remarks, likewise champions the saae right for the Boer set- 
tlers in South Africa! 

But nowhere — not even in the lengthy statements of WV defending such pro- 
imperialist politics — has the basic political premise of the SL approach to the 
national question been so exposed as in Robertson's unguarded remarks of January 29, 
1977. Here displayed for all to see is the SL's national chauvinism, its glorifi- 
cation of the superior culture of the imperialist (and especially English-speaking) 
nations and pro-imperialist settlers (such as the Israelis and Boers) , its petty 
academic sectarian horror before the untutored violence and rage of the oppressed. 
And especially on this last point — the point where the national question and the 
question of individual terror intersect — does the SL betray its eagerness to com- 
pletely divorce itself from any semblance of a Leninist policy. Consider the 
response of the SL to the events culminating in the Entebbe raid: 

The Israeli commando raid itself was described as having a "'Mission Impossible' 
touch", as being "brilliantly executed" and "audacious". And while the SL, after 
these admiring compliments for the settler supermen, claimed not to support the Is- 
raeli raid on the Ugandan airport, it hastened to add that the Palestinian airliner 
hijacking was "criminal", an "atrocity", and "an indefensible act of indiscriminate 
terrorism. " 

By "indefensible" the SL does not mean that this act of terror was politically 
incorrect as a tactic and counter-productive, something no Leninist would dispute. 
By "indefensible" the SL means that the SL would not defend the hijackers against 
the Israeli assault nor against a later Israeli show trial. By this word "indefen- 
sible" the SL gives up the Palestinian hijackers to their Israeli oppressors. 

The SL spares no words to blur the distinction between oppressor and oppressed. 
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP, the organization respon- 
sible for the hijacking) , which is a self-identified Marxist and Leninist party and 
which allows Trotskyist factions, is described by the SL as "just as chauvinist, 
racist, and reactionary as Zionism." And even further the SL claims that "if the 



11 

APPENDIX E : 
BUILD A NEW COMMUNIST INTERNATIONAL ON A P.EAL TROTSKYIST BASIS! 



/ptis leaflet was distributed to the Spartacist League on January 29, 197?;/ 

The Spartacist League (SL) meets tonight to discuss the question of rebuilding 
the Fourth International and, no doubt, the role the international Spartacist 
tendency (iSt) is to play in that rebirth. The SL will present itself and the iSt 
as the only legitimate Trotskyists in the world and will condemn their opponents 
within the Fourth International, and rightly so, for opportunism, reformism, and 
popular frontism. 

Yet how free is the SL itself from the betrayal ef revolutionary Trotskyism? 

The hallmark of Trotsky's politics with regard to the Soviet Union was always 
the most intransigent and unconditional defense of the first workers' state. While 
paying lip service to Trotsky's words, the SL, along with virtually the entire 
Trotskyist movement since the middle fifties, has kept Trotsky's formulations only 
as a cover for the deepest hostility towards not only the various national bureau- 
cracies, but the historical reality of the dictatorship of the proletariat itself, 
from which it recoils in petty bourgeois horror, a hostility which rivals that of 
the Shachtmanites. The SL has introduced an open revision of Trotskyism by depict- 
ing the political revolution as the smashing of the Stalinist state (see Spartacist 
no. 8, Nov. -Dec. 1966), rather than the revolutionary overthrow of the Stalinist 
governmental regime and the democratic reform of the workers' state. This common 
hostility led the rotten misleaders of the SWP in the past (with the Marcy-Copeland 
faction alone in opposition on this question) and leads the SL in retrospect to 
support, along with the whole world bourgeoisie, the 1956 Hungarian bourgeois natio- 
nal-democratic uprising against Stalinism. We have not the slightest, doubt that had 
Trotsky lived to 1956 he would have instructed his co-thinkers everywhere to give 
military support to the Red Army's intervention in Budapest just as surely as he 
himself organized the crushing of Kronstadt. 

This hostility towards the workers' states led the SL just as surely to abstain 
from militant actions of the anti-Vietnam war movement initiated by YAWF and Co-Aim 
and to cover itself with verbal posturings which counterposed the need to arouse 
the largely pro-war U.S. proletariat as against seeking to win the petty bourgeois 
anti-war youth to Marxism (though today with smug petty bourgeois complacency and 
careerism reigning supreme on the campuses the SL attaches itself to the universi- 
ties-) . 

The SL line on the Middle East completely violates Lenin's and Trotsky's posi- 
tion of military support of genuine struggles of oppressed nations and peoples 
against imperialism. The SL until recently joined in retrospect with Stalin in sup- 
porting (only "militarily" of course!) the creation of Israel in 1948, only to cor- 
rect that position with one of "neutrality." To this day the SL refuses to recog- 
nize the imperialist proxy role of Israel in even the June 1967 war which achieved 
the major U.S. strategic objective of closing the Suez to Soviet shipping bound for 
the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. 

But for better or worse the SL leadership has begun to betray its own past po- 
sitions on a number of questions and has initiated, beginning about six to ten 
months ago, a turn to the right which will liquidate what little is relatively pro- 
gressive in the SL tendency with regard to the left as a whole. 

To illustrate: In the Middle East the SL for years maintained a position of 



12 

"neutrality," calling for "defeatism on both sides" but managed to rise to the occa- 
sion of giving (purely verbal) military support to the Palestinians against the 
Hashemi te monarchy of Jordan during the civil war in Black September 1970. But 
during the recent civil war in Lebanon when the Palestinian resistance faced even 
greater dangers against an even more reactionary enemy, the openly pro- imperialist 
and pro-Zionist Maronite Phalange (which even the SL admits is Nazi-like) and its 
allies, the SL took an objectively pro-imperialist stand, refused to give military 
support to the Palestinian resistance and Lebanese left, and, what is worse, while 
calling for "everyone's defeat" in that "sordid intercommunal war" came out for the 
right of Maronite communities to self-defense even if politically and militarily 
organized by the Phalange! 

SL Leans Toward Popular Frontism 

The SL has always claimed to be the staunchest enemy of popular frontism. Yet 
now that the SL has reached a certain size and has begun to take on "responsibili- 
ties" it has begun to display a tendency towards popular frontism itself. In the 
recent campaign waged by the Committee to Save Mario Munoz, that committee made the 
successful effort, which was perfectly correct and principled, to enlist the support 
of a number of capitalist liberals such as Bella Abzug. What was unprincipled, how- 
ever, was that when the SL, in its press Workers Vanguard and elsewhere, reported 
on these successes, it did so wholly in the spirit of opportunist gloating over its 
ability to "rope in 3 ' liberals and failed to make side by side the necessary scathing 
and unmasking criticism of such Democratic politicians, who we can only assume must 
have some influence over the progressive sections of the labor movement the SL seeks 
to win to its politics. 

A minor error? From a Scratch to Gangrene . Those of us once in Workers World 
watched such "minor errors" and seemingly insignificant twists lead up to the full- 
blown popular front Emergency Committee Against Racism in Boston of 1974. Is the 
SL' s opposition to the popular front based only on an empirical understanding that 
Stalinist popular fronts in the past have led to staggering defeats, an opposition 
the SL will be willing to drop when the SL rather than the Stalinists engages : ; in 
popular frontism? 

As the SL has grown, its leadership has adapted itself to the backwardness of 
the student constituencies out of which it is now recruiting. This is the material 
basis for the recent right turn evidenced by the new line on Lebanon and the new 
dabbling in semi -popular frontism on a minor scale. We call especially on those 
Spartacists of several years* standing (whom we are ready to admit to being subjec- 
tively Trotskyists in good faith) to reverse this trend. 

SL's Faulty Methodology and Historical Analysis Repeats SWP's Errors 

But at the heart of the SL's errors lies a mistaken methodology and a mistaken 
interpretation of history. The Trotskyist movement proved unable to survive the 
death of Leon Trotsky politically intact, but the SL accepted as good coin the er- 
rors and betrayals made by the SWP leadership long* before the re-unification with 
Mandel. We suggest the SL examine Cannon's courtroom speeches of 1941 in the Min- 
neapolis trial (see Socialism on Trial) ; Cannon's defense was anything but communist; 
rather he appealed, with references to Jefferson and Lincoln, to the democratic and 
patriotic prejudices of his jury. Examine the SWP's stand on the Korean war where 
that organization took an initially neutral position saying the proletariat had no 
stake in the victory or defeat of either "puppet". Only under the pressure of the 
Marcy-Copeland faction did the SWP take a formally correct position of revolutionary 
defense. The SWP's support of the Hungarian counter-revolution was only the quali- 
tative break preceded by many smaller departures from any semblance of real Trotsky- 
ism, for their "defense" of the Soviet Union had long before become a hollow sham as 
is plainly visible in Cannon's The Road to Peace According to Lenin and According to 
Stalin, 1951. 



13 

The SL may prove capable of partially correcting some of the most recent errors 
we have made plain, as it managed finally to give token support to the MPLA after 
the open intervention of South African troops in the Angolan civil war. But the SL 
will always be condemned to error, will always prove unable to avoid a rightward 
drift into opportunism and popular frontism, except by the "correction" of a sterile 
retreat into sectarian abstentionism, so long as its method and political approach 
does not fundamentally differ from the SWP and all the revisionist Trotskyists. 

The SL must ask — in what way does the SL differ from the SWP's notoriously 
un-Marxist analysis of the Chinese revolution, in which the Chinese workers' state 
is dated from approximately 1953 and not from the time of the smashing of the old 
state apparatus of the Kuomintang and the erection of the new state machine led by 
the Chinese Stalinists? Does the SL date the workers' state in China from October 1, 
1949 or later? Any later date asserts the peaceful transition to workers' rule! 

The SL repeats the same error and betrays the same method when it asserts that 
Cuba became, peacefully and without civil war, a workers* state only in 1961 and 
not in 1959! 

Only in 1955 did the SWP take the position that China was a workers' state. Is 
it any wonder, then, that the SWP could not recognize the character of the Hungarian 
uprising in 1956? The SL's leading member James Robertson, an open Shachtmanite at 
that time, was able to join the SWP only because he, along with Wohlforth, believed 
the SWP's support of the 1956 uprising liquidated their formal differences over the 
class character of the Soviet Union — which indeed it did, and which is why we des- 
cribe you as neo-Shachtraanites: Trotskyist only in barest formulations, Shachtmanite s 
in hostility to the Soviet Union. 

4th International Died in Infancy — Build a New Communist International! 

The SL will never be able to avoid error and betrayal except by recognizing 
that none of the wings and factions of the Fourth International survived Trotsky's 
death and the war intact, that all have broken in practice with Trotskyism's 
unconditional defense of the Soviet Union and other workers' states, that all 
have misapplied the united front and the Transitional Program to justify either 
sectarian ultimatist abstention or reformism. 

Social Democracy was once a revolutionary watchword; yet Lenin understood that 
the new International, to completely break with the past, must be called Communist, 
and in so doing he hardly broke with Marxism. We insist that if a new Communist 
International is to be built on a revolutionary Marxist basis, that is, a real 
Trotskyist basis, the name Fourth International, which in its day was a glorious 
battle cry, must be recognized as hopelessly identified with the misdeeds of all 
those organizations which pretend to. its continuation and that the new, 
revolutionary international must stand before the masses with a new name, to 
signify the complete break with the errors and betrayals of the past. 

We must further recognize that the new international will not be built in real 
life by "negotiations" and "regroupnent" within the sickroom atmosphere of the 
revisionist "Fourth Internationalists," but only on the basis of a revolutionary 
upsurge of world historical proportions and the victory of the proletariat in at 
least one major industrial country (that can be relatively independent of the 
need for Soviet or Chinese assistance) or political revolution in the Soviet 
union or China (which, prior to revolutions in the West, is a far less likely 
variant) . 



14 

Whither the SL? 

The Spartacist League imagines it is preparing the way forward; in fact the SL 
is -only building another organizational and political obstacle standing in the way 
of real Trotskyists seeking to build a revolutionary Marxist vanguard. Communist 
Cadre has no confidence whatsoever in the ability of the SL as an organisational 
whole and with its present leadership to right itself and find a way to genuine 
Trotskyism. But we do not doubt that there are many in the SL who sense the 
changing, rightward course of their organization, that something is amiss. Given 
the relative sizes of our respective organizations and the deep political differ- 
ences which divide without a doubt every SL member from Communist Cadre, it is 
pointless to simply say: Join CTC. But what we will say, what we will demand, is 
that every SL member begin to struggle immediately within their common discipline 
to put an end to the political method and political approach of the SL leadership 
that reproduces in the pages of Workers Vanguard letters signed by Bella Abzug 
without scathing comment featured just as largely; that asserts that villages in 
Lebanon which are fascist Phalange strongholds have a "right" to self-defense 
against Palestinian revolutionaries; that asserts, as WV did in the "Politics of 
Crazy" article, that the capitalist state should be ceded the right to deal with 
genuinely "anti-social" elements; that asserts that there is such a creature as 
the "Stalinist state" and that it must be smashed. 

We have no doubt that if such a struggle is waged the SL cannot but be better 
for it and that in the course of such a struggle many SL members may find their 
way to genuine Trotskyism and to the discovery that it is embodied in the politics 
and tendency of Communist Cadre. For our part, we will continue to seek every 
avenue for political debate and united front collaboration with the SL. 



FORWARD TO THE TASK OF BUILDING A NEW COMMUNIST INTERNATIONAL ON A REAL 
TROTSKYIST BASIS! 

LONG LIVE THE VICTORY OF THE INTERNATIONAL PROLETARIAN REVOLUTION! 



From the Central Committee of 
Communist Cadre 

c/o Workers S Oppressed Unite 
156 Fifth Avenue-Room 416 
NY, NY 10010 
(212) 255-2949 



15 

APPEND IX F ; 
OPEN LETTER TO THE 
SPARTACIST LEAGUE ~ 
FROM COMMUNIST CADRE 



February 3, 1977 

On Saturday evening, January 29, 1977, James Robertson, leading central 
committee member of the Spartacist League (SL) , spoke at Barnard College, ostensibly 
to the topic "Toward the Rebirth of the Fourth International." Communist Cadre 
(CTC) challenges the SL, demands of the SL that his entire speech, without any 
deletions or editing, including his replies to questions and comments, be reproduced 
verbatim in Workers Vanguard or in a special pamphlet. Communist Cadre will with- 
out hesitation distribute at every opportunity such a verbatim reproduction of 
Robertson's remarks, for CTC cannot imagine a more damning indictment of the SL 
tendency ! 

Let us forewarn you: CTC has extensive stenographic notes, as well as access 
to a taped recording, of Robertson' s remarks and insists that no face-saving 
editing be done. Nor will the dishonest device of a journalistic, news article 
account of the meeting of January 29, touching on "high points" be accepted. CTC 
challenges, demands of the SL that every sentence and word be made publicly avail- 
able to the working class 'movement. 

Robertson's sarcastic dismissing of the Indochinese victory as a "big deal", 
his state-ot-tbe-world analysis without any reference to the workers' state camp, 
his insimvition that European gastarbeiter are incapable of anything better than 
pcpuler frontism, his expression of gratitude to U.S. imperialist democracy for 
permitting the "unbroken tradition" and superior quality of "U.S. Trotskyism", 
his assertion that Jewish merchants in the ghettoes charge 30% more because the 
"black kids rip them off" , his account of a student body election in California 
which the SL lost "even though we ran a pretty girl", even Robertson's chauvinist, 
lewd, Marcus-like joke about Albanian peasants — the working class and progressive 
movement has a right to such a verbatiia account of these remarks in order to judge 
an organization that allows such a clown and buffoon to occupy a position of 
importance and to display his utter inadequacy in public. 

Communist Cadre will not demagogically play on charges of racism and sexism; 
we are willing to believe citizen Robertson is subjectively an advocate of race 
and sex equality. But what was displayed at the January 29 meeting was a complete 
and utter lack of political seriousness and that is far more damning than any of 
Robertson's repellent insensitivity to blacks, women, and oppressed people. The 
SL must now give an account of this to all. 

CCX24UFIST CADRE, c/o Workers and Oppressed Unite, 156 5th Ave., Rm 416, 

New York, NY 10010 Tel: 255-2949 



16 



MOTE 



On the following pages, Communist Cadre reproduces Robertson's January 29 
talk almost verbatim. The discussion period has been edited to about half its 
original length. To simplify distinguishing CTC editorial comment from various 
speakers' remarks, we have printed speakers' remarks in regular type and editorial 
comments in italics. Editorial emphasis is indicated by capitalizing, and 
speakers' own emphasis by underlining the emphasized words. 

We have indicated deletions in three ways . Where a word or sentence was 
inaudible we have placed three dots within the speakers' remarks; where the 
word or sentence which was inaudible seemed particularly important we specifically 
note this by placing inaudible in brackets: /vnau&'ibte/ , sometimes hazarding a 
guess as to the inaudible worg based on notes taken at the talk. Where we have 
deleted remarks for considerations of length (Robertson's remarks were, as shall 
be seen, rambling and ill-prepared) we have summarized them and noted the deletion 
within the editorial comment. 

__ _Robert son's meandering, ungrammatical style required the use of the standard 
/sic/ device. We attempted to limit this device to the most incomprehensible 
sentences and dubious formulations. 



17 



PART Is ROBERTSON'S SPEECH 



T-Jell, comrades, I've spoken to a lot larger meetings in my life, but only as 
a result of a misunderstanding between me and the audience. 1 genuinely think 
this is the largest meeting that I've ever talked to, aside from a few captive 
annual conferences where there was not such a misunderstanding. And as part of 
my sectarian past — and, hopefully, future — I want to pay some initial attention to 
something I had no thought on earth of dealing with. 

Robertson begins his presentation by addressing issues raised in a leaflet 
widely distributed by Communist Cadre(CTC) shortly before the meeting had convened. 
The text of the leaflet is given in Appendix t. 

Here's a nice leaflet. It's directed to us. It's carefully and obviously 
conscientiously written. It's three pages, legal size, elite-typed, single- 
spaced, and it's been nicely done. And one had better pay attention to such 
things. It's by a group that I had not heard of called the "Central Committee of 
Communist Cadre" /siqj . And so I quickly read it just before the meeting. And in 
about the third paragraph, I think I see what the differences are between us. 

They speak of how we have a bad position on the political revolution as "the 
smashing of the Stalinist state rather than the revolutionary overthrow of the 
Stalinist governmental /regime/ and the democratic reform of the workers' state." 

Here Robertson goes on to uphold the neo-Shachtmanite position of the Sparta- 
cist League (SL) on political revolution — >a position that asserts that political 
revolution is the overthrow not only of the Stalinist bureaucracy but of the 
workers' state itself. Instead of ''workers' state 1 ' 3 the SL borrows from the rene- 
gade Max Shachtman the formulation "Stalinist state". Later 3 in the discussion^ a 
speaker from CTC will refute this revision of Trotskyism (see p. 33). 

Mow Trotsky was right in '33-34 when he came out no longer for reform, com- 
rades. IT IS NECESSARY TO DESTROY THE STALINIST STATE APPARATUS; THAT IS WHY IT 
IS CALLED A POLITICAL REVOLUTION, AND NOT A REFORM. THAT MEANS, IN THE SOVIET 
UNION AND ANCILARY REGIMES, THAT THAT STATE APPARATUS HAS TO BE SWEPT AWAY BY THE 
INSURGENT POWER OF THE PROLETARIAT. AND THAT IS OUR DIFFERENCE, I think. And I 
suspect that this grouping is probably (from multiple other evidence) , has derived 
from the Marcy tendency. 

It is, of course, extremely gratifying: the references that "now that the SL 
has reached a certain size," and "as the SL has grown, its leadership has adapted 
itself to the backwardness of the student constituency out of which it is now 
recruiting." Well, we are not recruiting any students these days — neither is any- 
body else. And all of our opponents have said that we have always recruited only 
from petty bourgeois students. And, furthermore, we aren't even growing very much 
lately. So, gratification to the contrary notwithstanding, that stuff is wrong. 

And then we get to, down here, on the question of China — I think we agree 
with you comrades. It seems to us self-evident that the Maoist regime finaudiblej 
1949, through a kind of moving boundary of the extension of state power had al- 
ready acquired its class character and it was that of a deformed workers' state. 
And in that nasty reference, "James Robertson, a Shachtmanite" (Just like Sy Landy 
up there. Yeah, it's just because the SvJP sold out that he threw in with these 
renegades.) Now. ..unlike Sy Landy, as I now recall (and at the time that went for 
Wohlforth although he's presumably still in greener pastures), we thought we'd 
learned something: that the Hungarian Revolution /§icT showed us that the theory 
of bureaucratic collectivisia was fundamentally episodic and impressionistic, and 



13 

that Trotsky had indeed been right, as under the pressure and the test of internal 
political revolution and social struggle, that, in fact, the Hungarian revolution- 
ary experience could not be squared with any other historic and theoretical expe- 
rience than that Russia is a deformed workers' state. That's a fact. IT'S JUST 
AS MUCH A FACT THAT I WAS A SHACHTMANITE FOR EIGHT YEARS... 

Having thus argued around an issue raised by CTC in its leaflet (i.e. s the 
signifioanae of James Robertson abandoning open Shachtmanite politics to join the 
Socialist Workers Party only after the SWP had supported the counter-revolutionary 
uprising in Hungary in 1956 3 which the SWP dubbed a "political revolution") Robert- 
son turns to the question of the Fourth International. Again the speaker side- 
steps the real issue raised — the capitulation of all major wings of the Fourth 
International 3 following Trotsky's death and World War II 3 to fundamental revisions 
of Trotskyism. 

Okay, now we get to something that's very bad, and again, it's some of the 
weakest side of Marcyism. It's not their grooving on Russian tanks bringing down 
innocent workers in East Europe (which, after all, there's something to be said 
for, 'cause they ain't so innocent now). It's this, about rebuilding the Fourth 
International : 

"But only on the basis of a revolutionary upsurge of world historical propor- 
tions, and the victory of the proletariat in at least one major industrial country" 
or a successful political revolution can the Fourth International be rebuilt. Well, 
what are you doing here? Seriously. There is a role in history — a necessary, not 
a sufficient but a necessary role for the subjective factor. The assertion that 
it is possible for comrades centered upon the Fourth International to come together 
on the basis of a program, in advance of giant victories, who are supposed to be 
created by who, then? And you write off the Fourth International in advance until 
after it's no longer essentially necessary. And that's subjectivism. And it 
strikes at the heart of a proletarian vanguard. 

And then you go on, and in your last paragraph you said, you know, that, 
therefore, on the basis of program, you're really no good. Including now — and 
here's one that's really fine — "an SL leadership that reproduces in the pages of 
Workers Vanguard /weekly paper of the SL/ letters signed by Bella Abzug without 
scathing comment featured just as largely." Now, it happens that one of the pet, 
abnormally provocative hates of Workers Vanguard is Bella Abzug. If you are pro- 
posing unity on the basis of reviling that obnoxious lady, you'd better be careful 
because you may get the whole St. Bernard. 

Robertson fails to note that, while Workers Vanguard has indeed often reviled 
Abzug 3 it failed to do so when gloating over her letter of support to the Committee 
to Save Mario Munoz. This committee was formed by the Partisan Defense Committee , 
which supports the politics of the SL. 

But, nevertheless — and while I go lightly over this document — some comrades 
of the communist workers' movement have gone to some considerable effort to take 
a look at the Spartacist League and what, from their standpoint, they think its 
errors, weaknesses, failings, and future betrayals are. And one should always pay 
attention to such things— as opposed to the mere sellers of one's journal. /Unclear 
brief remarks on SWP literature and the evening's time limits follow. Then Robert- 
son begins his main presentation/7' 

I think there's a kind of political disease called conjuncturalism which I 
first ran into before Lyn Marcus /renegade from the working class movement; present- 
ly heads the proto-fascist National Caucus of Labor Committees/ went completely 
mad, and he always used to yell at us: "But what's the conjuncture; you're ignoring 
the conjuncture!" Now, you have to pay attention to the conjuncture, the level of 
class struggle, the main motion in the world and its various components, and what 
appears to be possible or likely. One really has to do this. And we have one 



19 

comrade in particular who's got an extremely good background. . .1 have his latest 
memo on the economic conjuncture right here with me for moral reassurance. But, 
there's a problem. 

The speaker cites Lenin's failure to anticipate the October Revolution as late 
as January 1917 and Lutte Ouvriere's categorical denial of the possibility of _ 
significant class battles on the eve of the May 1988 uprising in France. lpeleted_J 

How this is not an appeal to know-nothingism, but to suggest that you must try 
to understand. It is better to be prepared — a hundred- fold better. But to be pre- 
pared to do what? That is qualitative. And it's in that sense that I approach 
the question of con juncturalism. . . The questions of victory and defeat depend upon 
the conjuncture and how you prepare for it, but they do not change your own identity. 

Falsely equating aonjunctural analysis with impressionism, Robertson proceeds 
to contemptuously dismiss Latin American and European militants, not only attacking 
(correctly) their political mistakes, but also disparaging their eagerness to 
struggle. Also, characteristically for the SL, Robertson makes no distinction 
between the political arenas open to the working class in Latin America — now pre- 
dominantly military dictatorships — and in Europe. This blanket indictment of 
n guerrilla-ism" will become more blatant as the talk progresses. 

And we've had a bit too much of con juncturalism. I'll speak mainly from the 
standpoint of the revolutionary socialist movement of this country in the post- '50s 
period. THERE'S A GREAT DEAL OF THIRD WORLD COW JUNCTURALISM BECAUSE MOST OF THE 
EVIDENT SOCIAL STRUGGLE AGAINST CAPITALIST IMPERIALISM IN THE PERIOD OF THE LATE 
'50s THROUGH THE EARLY '70s TOOK PLACE IN THE VARIOUS COLONIAL SECTIONS OF THE 
WORLD... AND, OUT OF THIS, OF COURSE, THERE ARISES IMPRESSIONISTIC THEORIZING, A 
GREAT DEAL OF GROOVING ON THE LUMPEN-PROLETARIAT, AND UPON SMALL GROUP VIOLENCE 
AND SU3STITUTI0NALISH. 

/Robertson indulges in deleted' sarcastic in- jokes on reunification efforts 
within the United Secretariat// IT f^third world conjuncturalism^J WAS SIMPLY A 
CATERING TO IMPRESSIONISM OF SOUTH AMERICAN AND EUROPEAN YOUTH WHO THOUGHT THAT 
YOU CAN GO OUT AND PICK UP THE GUN AND A BIT OF PLASTIQUE, AND PREFERABLY SOME 
CHESRING-TYPE PEASANTS, AND AWAY YOU GO! And Lenin and Trotsky were really old hat, 
if they weren't crypto-opportunist . 

Now, having disparaged as much as I can the question of conjuncturalism, it's 
really quite important to take a look at the conjuncture as best we can..,- 

Robertson begins his obviously ill-prepared "look at the conjuncture" with a 
shameless burst of US chauvinism. He presents a picture of Southeast Asia as 
virtually "sewed up" by US imperialism, not only ignoring the dramatic shift in 
the balance of class forces brought dbou^fhe victories throughout Indochina, but 
taking pains to dismiss the revolution in Vietnam as "an exercise in imperial 
egotism" on the part of the US ruling class, as merely a minor diplomatic issue 
in US/Chinese relations! Moreover, Robertson's mercifully brief remarks on Vietnam 
constitute his only assessment of any of the workers ' states in his entire "analy- 
sis" of the historic conjuncture. 

In the past, the victories took place in Vietnam and all Indochina. The impe- 
rialists — headed by the Americans — learned a thing or two and have done a pretty 
good job, assisted in other ways, in stabilizing, for example, South America (Latin 
America) and have found what is reasonably described as neo-colonialism as a way 
to be assured of necessary limits, at least in black Africa. And the great proto- 
type of this phenomenon was, of course, THE INDONESIAN MILITARY COUP OF 1965... IN 
WHICH NOT MERELY THE COMMUNIST PARTY WAS BEHEADED BUT THE MASSES WERE GIVEN A TRE- 
MENDOUS DEFEAT. . . And if there was any virtue in the domino theory in Southeast 
Asia, it was what happened in Indonesia. SEE, THAT'S WHERE THE PEOPLE ARE. THERE 



20 

AREN'T ANYBODY MUCH WHO LIVES IN INDOCHINA AND THAILAND, but-- what?-- there are 150 
million people in Java? And Java remains safe for democracy. And after that THE 
BALANCE OF THE VIETNAMESE WAR WAS AN EXERCISE IN IMPERIAL EGOTISM ON THE PART OF 
1 COMPETING AMERICAN INSTITUTIONS, government, and jockeying around in an attempt to 
I come to an understanding with the Chinese. AS IS CLEAR WITH WHAT HAS HAPPENED IN 
VIETNAM: WENT COMMUNIST-- BIG DEAL! 

Referring to the economic crisis leading up to and following the Nixon admini- 
stration's devaluation of the dollar, Robertson turns to the consequent "periods of 
kinds of instability in the capitalist world order. " Ee begins by discussing Japan, 
citing the SL's lack of roots in 3 or first-hand knowledge of 3 Japan as "probably 
the single greatest weakness of our international tendency" and, as /'Trotskyism's 
single greatest failure"* its lack of influence there. (These remarks deleted.) 

It is noteworthy that Robertson, having just lightly dismissed the Indochinese 
revolutions, and soon to display his chauvinism towards Mediterranean and Latin 
American countries, devotes considerable relative time to discussing the situation 
of one of the major imperialist powers, Japan. We point this out scarcely to dis- 
parage the significance of the class struggle in Japan, or in any of the major 
imperialist countries, but simply to expose an internationalism" that consistently 
displays greater interest in and solidarity with the proletariat of those countries 
which more closely resemble its own. This tendency, however, does not prevent 
Robertson from making sarcastic comments on the Japanese peasantry. 

While the petty bourgeois student youth and the public employees' sectors 
have been quite militant, and of course professing socialist and communist aims, 
there have been two other big sectors of Japanese society that have been quiescent 
or reactionary. The limited democratization under MacArthur in the wake of the 
Japanese defeat did away by and large with the Japanese landlord class and WE HAVE 
A CONSERVATIVE AND SUCCESSFUL PEASANTRY IN JAPAN. AND THEY HAVE NOT BEEN PART OF 
ANY SIGNIFICANT STRUGGLES UNLESS SOMEBODY COMES AND WANTS TO MAKE AN AIRBASE OUT 
OF HIS LAND. 

The other is that the main bulk of manufacturing, of the industrial proleta- 
riat in Japan have been in the private sector and they've hardly been unionized at 
all and they've been fed into a traditional patriarchal industrial apparatus where 
they're guaranteed lifetime jobs, pensions, and the whole schmear. And they've 
been enormously conservative. So, unlike the railway workers and the rest of the 
public employees, the main section of the Japanese proletariat has been outside 
the struggle for the last ten or fifteen years. But now, with the attempt of the 
rest of the world bourgeoisie to make the Japanese carry an exorbitant load (the 
Japanese bourgeoisie , and therefore the Japanese proletariat) ? this patriarchal 
relationship has begun to decompose and we have the objective possibility of the 
main battalions of the Japanese proletariat embracing in a militant way the socia- 
list cause. 

Now much more than that I really can't say... We ought to understand that 
that fundamental change, that liberation of the main section of the Japanese pro- 
letariat from its industrial masters, is a process that is taking place now. Cour- 
tesy, above all, of the American bourgeoisie... 

The speaker now addresses the situation in Spain and Portugal with banal 
generalities before displaying his contempt for the "unviable" Italian working 
class and sneering, his protestations notwithstanding, at the Greek proletariat. 

And then there's the Mediterranean basin — Greece, Iberia, Italy, and, in some 
ways, Yugoslavia — where capitalism is quite weak. . .where the main export during 
the period of the economic boom has been its own sons into the industrial appara- 
tus of North and West Europe. Historically, largely military dictatorships most 
of the time and with the whole of the economic processes characterized in the 
result by inflation, but with a number of particular causes. One can describe the 



21 

region as generally tumultuous in the revolutionary sense... I don't say a true 
revolutionary situation, certainly not in general. So, finally the old Salasarist 
dictatorship fell. The expense of the colonial war in Africa was too much and 
that triggered the Portuguese situation against a background of economic diffi- 
culties. The fascist regime was decomposing. 

The newspapers are full of what is happening in Spain. In everyone's mind, 
in and out of Spain, is the question of 1936. /ynaudible sentence/ 

ITALY'S HARD TO CHARACTERIZE. We probably ought to put a chart on the wall... 
IT IS NOT NOW A PARTICULARLY VIABLE COUNTRY SOCIALLY, POLITICALLY OR MILITARILY, 
and all sections of the country as you know it /sic/ and the great hope is that 
the Pope and the Communist Party will make a deal. It's called the "Historic 
Compromise." I'm not kidding. 

GREECE IS GOING THROUGH ONE OF ITS UNUSUALLY RARE PERIODS SINCE THE METAXAS 
DICTATORSHIP OF 1935, IN WHICH IT IS POSSIBLE FOR THE MASSES TO COME OUT INTO THE 
STREETS AND ARGUE, "WHICH OF THE TWO COMMUNIST OR THREE MAOIST PARTIES DO YOU 
SUPPORT?" AND THEY DO IT IN THE HUNDREDS EVERY NIGHT. YOU KNOW, IT'S AN INTER- 
REGNUM BETWEEN DICTATORSHIPS IN A COUNTRY THAT AGAIN CHRONICALLY CONSISTS OF 
EXPORTING ITS CHILDREN AND SELLING EXPENSIVE WRISTWATCHES TO EACH OTHER. (AND I'M 
NOT SNEERING, BECAUSE AFTER YOU'VE BEEN TO TEL AVIV AND 'JERUSALEM IT IS GODDAMN .GOOD 
TO GET TO ATHENS, I'LL TELL YOU THAT! IT IS A GIANT STEP UP!) 

So these regions, or this region, around the Mediterranean is historically 
impoverished, under-capitalized, partakes of some of the elements of the colonial 
world and some of the elements of what is generally called Europe. It's unstable 
from the standpoint of a revolutionary proletariat. So, and therefore, it is the 
region right now, par excellence, like Chile was and Argentina is, of the popular 
front. Because an old-fashioned stable coalition of social-democratic Labourites 
and liberal bourgeois isn't good enough. You gotta have revolutionary slogans in 
order to deceive the masses, in order to keep the old shit going, because the 
conditions of life are qualitatively less tolerable. So it's the area where you 
find popular frontism! What's popular frontism? Into the rest of the sellout 
broth you drop a hammer and sickle I That's all. And stir it. That's the popular 
front of the bourgeoisie and Stalinist parties. 

Here Robertson's insults flow thick and fast as he fantasizes a European 
proletariat "dripping with fat" (in the midst of widespread austerity programs!)* 
characterizes blacks as outside the working class, and European gastarbeiters as 
congenital popfronters. 

And then there's north and west Europe proper. Somebody said it a few years 
ago and it's still true: it's a long time now, in terms of social history, since 
the end of the second world war. North and west Europe drip with fat! In many of 
these countries, they live better than the Americans and you better know it! 
Although I'LL GRANT YOU THE AMERICAN STATISTICS ARE OBJECTIVELY FALSIFIED BY THE 
INCLUSION OF AMERICAN NEGROES WHO LIVE IN ANOTHER WAY. Whereas the European sta- 
tistics are objectively falsified in the other direction because they can exclude 
from their calculations what they call so nicely the gastarbeiters, the guest 
workers — the southern Italians, the Iberians, the Yugoslavs, the Turks. And it 
/ynaudible/ the situation, but it strengthened the German market. So that, IN THE 
PRESENT SITUATION OF ECONOMIC DIFFICULTY IN WEST EUROPE, THEY HAVE A VERY EASY OUT: 
THEY SIMPLY DEPORT THEIR GASTARBEITERS, THEIR GUEST WORKERS, BACK TO THEIR NATIVE 
VILLAGES WHERE THEY GO AND SCREAM FOR THE POPULAR FRONT. So, you see, there's a 
safety valve mechanism in terms of the immigrant labor, the migrant labor — pawn 
them! 

. . . These countries have generally pretty politically effective social-demo- 
cratic and/or Stalinist parties. To the extent that there is restlessness and 
there are economic reserves, adjustments can be made. And that's why one finds 
relatively less, overall, in the Benelux countries, France, Germany, Scandinavia, 
tumultuousness . . . 



22 

Now where it all comes to a screaming halt is in Britain with its archaic 
industrial apparatus having liquidated the imperial reserves in two world wars and 
the post- second world war period, with a working class that lives now at a level 
below that of East Germany — significantly below, I'm told. There's a problem, a 
big general problem. 

In deleted remarks, describing the worsening economic crisis in Britain* 
Robertson cites the inadequacy of the Conservative and Labour parties to deal with 
the resulting social unrest. Be then discusses the role of the Stalinists and the 
Social democracy as mediators between the masses and the bourgeoisie as obstacles 
to the victory of the proletariat. 

But, comrades, there's nothing much they can mediate any more. The real prob- 
lem in Britain is locating the non-existent source in all of this_easy Labourite 
radicalism drifting off to communistic, Shachtmanite , Trotskyite/aic/ type radi- 
calism, any organization in Britain that wants to go after the main chance, in the 
rallying of the proletariat for the struggle between labor and capital — which can- 
not, if you mobilize over the issue around the trade unions and the right to strike, 
of what the British workers get, there is nothing stopping short of immediately 
posing around such a struggle the dictatorship of the proletariat. And that's a 
very big thing for these people to swallow 'cause they've had a lot of mediation 
for a long time. 

With characteristic unseriousness , Robertson surveys the left forces in 
Britain. Consonant with his later light dismissal of the threat posed by fascist 
forces in the US and Europe, he jokingly refers to the Socialist Workers Party's 
militant confrontations in England with groups like the national front (whose 
program calls for the deportation of national minorities and the smashing of 
communism and trade unions in Britain). While the politics of the Socialist Work- 
ers Party are a blatant revision of Trotskyism, their militance against fascist 
forces is to be commended. 

So instead, we find that most of the groups like the larger, the Communist 
Party keeps trying to creep into the left wing of the Labour Party, and MI-5 keeps 
trying to get them out. And Tony Cliff's — no longer the IS, it's called the 
Socialist Wooers Party in Great Britain now — keeps trying to displace the mass 
role of the Communist Party of several thousand important trade union militants, 
and RUNNING FASCIST BASHES and right-to-work marches. The Healyites run right- to- 
work marches and they're doing their best to convince the British working class 
that somebody called Joe Hansen in the United States is an agent for the GPU. 
That's what they do. There are about six or eight little groups all trying to 
imitate the aforementioned. And then, of course, there's the Labour left. I don't 
have enough time to excoriate and revile them... So it's ripe, the objective pre- 
conditions for a revolutionary crisis are ripe in Great Britain. 

Robertson notes the awareness of the bourgeois press that a social crisis 
exists in Britain. He quotes at length, in deleted remarks, from a 12/6/76 New York 
Times article which expresses fear that the crisis will not be contained and that 
a revolutionary Trotskyist party will emerge from a Labour Party split. 

Now he fp>ie NIT writer/ proposes that as horror; that's what we've been 
thinking. But the instruments in Britain are not, as now, presently put together 
to achieve that. And, of course, in the present round of things, our forces in 
Britain are by two orders of magnitude qualitatively weak. All we can do is inter- 
vene, hope, and seek to regroup from among the kaleidoscopic half a dozen groups 
that hang about in London and a few of the provinces and see what we could put 
together on a principled programmatic basis. But I have to report that unless the 
native anger and militancy of the British workers organized in their trade unions 



23 

makes a successful confrontation (and that's not very optimistic) that this- which 
is both an urgent necessity for the British working class and an opportunity for 
international revolutionary communism is going to be lost. 

Now when I say "us" sometimes, as in this leaflet — "Oh, you people think you're 
the only ones!"— well, I wish you could identify some other organization with a 
program designed to meet these needs and a willingness to undertake it, and we 
would go and join them. I want to deal a little bit later with the question of 
whether or not the international Spartacist tendency exists for organizationally 
egotistical reasons. An important point. 

The speaker now comes to '"English' speaking North America", a synonym, it seems, 
in the Spartacist League, primarily for the United States. Lest Canadian visitors 
in his audience miss this point, the chauvinist Robertson chides them for any 
nationalist sentiments his exclusion of their country from North American politics 
might arouse. An inaudible sentence or two precede these remarks. 

And then we have North America — English-speaking North America. I'm not 
speaking of Mexico and/or Quebec, where different processes are working. And 
therefore, IF WE SPEAK OF ENGLISH-SPEAKING NORTH AMERICA, YOU ENGLISH-SPEAKING 
CANADIANS IN THE AUDIENCE— YOUR MAPLE LEAF PROCLIVITIES TO THE CONTRARY NOTWITH- 
STANDING— WE WILL SPEAK OF THE UNITED STATES AND THAT LITTLE FRINGE ON THE SURREY 
THAT RUNS FIFTY MILES NORTH OF THE U.S. BORDER. . ./tdughterj 

In the US we have this most powerful but no longer hegemonic force of world 
capital. This is a, we have a government and a ruling class that can look back 
over the—what? — past fifteen-twenty years. Ran an extremely long and expensive 
and losing colonial war with all of the appropriate consequences that one would 
hope to expect in terms of lying, exposure, demoralization, corruption, hypocrisy, 
brutality, the rest. Some fairly unsuccessful governments: the Nixon/Agnew, Ford 
administrations just going out of power. 

The ghetto rebellions of the sixties — whose significance in politicizing 
progressives in the US and throughout the world is lost on Robertson — are drawn 
by him in racist caricature. He counterposes to them, by juxtaposition, "some- 
thing really quite important" — a nationwide post office strike. Robertson, more- 
over> implicitly admonishes the black militants for their impatience while portray- 
ing them as shiftless anti-Semites. 

A restless youth which in the 1960s made a lot of trouble on campus, including 
this one /T.e., Columbia/. A BLACK POPULATION WHICH SAID, "WHY WAIT?" AND PRO- 
CEEDED TO BURN DOWN THEIR OWN GHETTOES AND THEY'RE STILL WAITING FOR SOME JEWS TO 
COME BACK AND OPEN THEIR DRUGSTORES. IT DOESN'T HAPPEN. A working class which at 
the beginning of the seventies went on a number of wildcats, including something 
really quite important. Listen to this — a major nationwide post office strike! 
You know the old slogan of the thirties, "You can't strike against the government"? 
Well, two million guys struck against the government and won. There were no fir- 
ings, no jailings, no nothing. This is important. 

And a lot of the new left hippie milieu, that had previously stopped grooving 
on the Black Mississippi Democratic Party in '64 and all that stuff, turned to the 
third world and Vietnam, thought empirically that workerism was where it was at, 
and they plunged in. They've also grown a little jaded with the Chinese self-help 
projects in Newark, so they've become "hard Maoists". And then nothing much 
happened. And you see, comrades, it should have happened, objectively. 

Robertson, in deleted remarks, cites massive inflation resulting from the 
Vietnam War which has been "grinding to pieces" all classes in the US, including 
the bourgeoisie, which"lost half their wealth in terms of real stable dollars" 
since 1965 arid people" taking it out on each other" as exemplified in vigilanteism 
promoted in the popular movie ''Death Wish". Unlike Britain and western Europe, 
there is no Social Democracy or Communist Party to mediate for the US bourgeoisie, 



24 

only the AFL-CIO and the Teamsters. Black "impatience" again comes in for a 
tongue-lashing by Robertson, who ignores the role of the political police in 
destroying the Black Panthers. 

And that's all there is. .THAT A30UT THE BLACK MOVEMENT THAT WAS GONNA DO IT 
NOW, THAT WAS IMPATIENT? GOT THE PANTHERS; THE PANTHERS SPLIT, RIGHT? AFTER SOME 
VARIOUS KINDS OF TROUBLE™ THEY ' RS GONNA :, OFF THE PIGS" AND ALL THAT STUFF— WE GOT 
HUEY NEWTON AND ELDRIDGE CLEAVER. So we have a black population hideously 
oppressed and abused in this country, twenty millions, and I cannot think of a 
single organization outside and to the left of the NAACP. 

Political parties of the working class in general? Where? What? 

Tliough economic conditions worsened in 1976 ^ Robertson notes 3 in deleted 
remarks 3 that both presidential candidates that year were essentially conservative. 
In the following remarks he bolsters an implicit theme in his presentation — i.e., 
that US workers are actually closer to revolutionary class consciousness than 
European workers by virtue of not being infected by Stalinists. Robertson here 
presents an idyllic, and necessarily contradictory 3 picture of the organized US 
working class. On the one hand 3 says Robertson, the AFL-CIO alone is stifling a 
working class seething with discontent. On the other hand., the AFL-CIO is so 
: ' eroded from below' 1 that half of the union locals are controlled by militants who 
would easily "go in with the guys" in opposition to the union higher-ups. Robert- 
son thus avoids dealing with the more sobering reality that the US working class, 
organized in its trade unions, is still laboring under heavy illusions in the 
union bureaucracy and. in the US government. Moreover , illusions in Stalinism, in 
reformism, are part of a stage that the US working class has by and large not 
passed through y&t t not one that they liave happily circumvented in a direct line 
from trade union consciousness to revolutionary consciousness. 

How does it happen in this country where every section of the population 
eught to be groaning with discontent and we have this arch-conservative election? 
And the finger points to the AFL-CIO, which is an ossified structure. It took its 
crystalline shape in the middle of the Cold War. Nov/, we also better know what 
else is happening. It's been heavily eroded from below. I THINK THAT PROBABLY 
HALF OF THE UNION LOCALS IH AMERICA ARE WOW IN THE HANDS OF GUYS WHO, IF THEY WERE 
PUT TO IT, WOULD TEND, OVER A PRIMITIVE CLASS STRUGGLE ISSUE, TO BREAK FROM THEIR 
LOYALTY TO SOLIDARITY HOUSE OR WHATEVER INTERNATIONAL IT IS, AND GO IN WITH THE 
GUYS... It's eroded now. It's an international apparatus; it's not a union local 
apparatus anymore. 

But nonetheless, the only existing force that, on paper and historically, is 
committed to the defensa of the rights of the working people is the union movement. 
And it has now for a generation been shrinking fro.* below, for it's eroding, been 
in the hands of guys who are far, far closer, in the. most literal sense of the word, 
to the CIA and the FBI than they are to the needs of the working people. But it's 
a very brittle structure And this is where the European bourgeoisie have it 
better. 

Robertson, in deleted remarks t notes the role of the French Communist Forty 
in the May 1968 general strike, saying that it was the '''Communist Party, and only 
the Communist Party — not the police, not the French Army — who saved the day for 
the French bourgeoisie. Because they were the ones who could control it, keep the 
workers isolated. . . " 

But the roots of the French Communist Party go back to the Paris Commune; 
it's an extremely politically, sophisticated apparatus. Can you imagine the AFL- 
<f • €«*ling with general strikes? Meany's greatest statement was, "I've never 
been in a strike in my life. I was a plumber froia the Bronx; we never did that 
sort of stuff up there." They're rigid; they're not only eroded from below, 



25 

they're brittle. And the principal grievance that we have with organizations 
in this country, such as the Communist Party and the Socialist Workers Party, is 
that they're all geared up to play the role of rendering less brittle, more elastic, 
more plausible, the trade union bureaucracy... And that's what the YSA /Young So- 
cialists Alliance — youth arm of the Socialist Workers Party/ is— an available 1000 
youth instantly to be hired as assistant educational directors and assistant edi- 
tors of union newspapers, in order to explain to the workers that black is white 
and this is the best of all possible worlds. 

****** 

Gap in talk due to tape change 
****** 

The approving laughter of the predominantly SL audience at Robertson's next 
remarks is one of many instances where embarrassed silence, followed by refutation 
later from other Slers 3 would have been more in order. 

IN ABODT 1954, IN THE MIDDLE OF THE WITCH HUNT AMD THE COLD WAR, WE RAN A 
CANDIDATE FOR SOME STUDENT OFFICE AGAINST A RELATIVELY MORE POPULIST STALINIST 
CANDIDATE. (RIGHT, HE WAS GONNA GET 100 VOTES OUT OF 20,000; WE WERE GONNA GET 
50 VOTES OUT OF 20,000.) £0, THIS LAST YEAR WE RAN A REALLY PRETTY GIRL ON THAT 
CAMPUS AND GOT 18 VOTES, /laughter/ WE'D BETTER LEARN. AND I CHECKED--I THOUGHT 
MAYBE THEY DIDN'T PASS OUT ANY LEAFLETS OR SOMETHING! 

At the same time, one has to report, from a sampling of the student population, 
that there's not the 1950s tendency to want to get crewcuts and make it in manage- 
ment and labor relations and all that stuff. It's a turnoff. Cynicism. So that 
I want to exhort the comrades in the room and elsewhere not to think that this is a 
socially passive country. I think it's jaded. I think that we have an unrespon- 
sive labor movement with no political sight to it, hostile. 

I think that all sections of the population in this country have been, each 
according to their own particular oppressions (and EVERYBODY, NO MATTER WHAT THE 
DIFFERENTIAL, THINKS THEIR OWN OPPRESSION IS THE WORST), have been trashed and 
trashed again. /I think/ that this government, that the very nakedness of its 
lying and hypocrisy and the general greed of the bourgeoisie and the inability to 
do anything about it in any apparent way, has created an enormous amount of explo- 
sive social material in America looking for an outlet. 

After pointing with understanding to the alleged fact that "everybody thinks 
their own oppression is the worst" — an assertion that (1) is not true, and (2) to 
the extent that it does apply to the petty bourgeoisie and labor aristocracy in 
this country 3 is often evidence of a dangerous tendency to scapegoat the more 
oppressed for the decay of capitalism — Robertson fatuously dismisses the threat 
of fascism in the US. While fascism has been weaker, historically, in the US than 
in many European countries, the Klan, the Nazi Party, ROAR, etc. pose real and 
serious threats to the physical safety and political unity of the working class in 
the US. Robertson's remarks are particularly ill-timed in the midst of increasing- 
ly aggressive Klan and Nazi activities. The anti-sexual backlash campaigns of 
Anita Bryant et al were, not yet mobilized at the time of Robertson's talk, but the 
atmosphere which produced them was already becoming evident. 

That also argues for a considerable fascist potential in this country. 
ALTHOUGH, THERE AGAIN, AMERICA HAS ONE OF THE SMALLEST AND MOST HAPPILY PITIFUL, 
AND ROTTEN, AND DISGUSTING AND CREEPY FASCIST MOVEMENTS OF ANY OF THE MAJOR IMPE- 
RIALIST COUNTRIES. THEY HAVE MUCH BIGGER, THE BIGGEST FASCIST MOVEMENT'S IN ITALY. 
THE FRENCH HAVE GOT A RESPECTABLE, AND THE BRITISH AREN'T TOO BACKWARD, AND EVEN 
THE GERMANS — YOU KNOW, ASIDE FROM THE POOR OLD WEHRMACHT GUYS THAT COME OUT OF THE 
BARS AND BOO AT OUR DEMONSTRATIONS . /TaughterJ THEY GOT SS MEN— THEY'RE NOT ALL 
IN ARGENTINA. 



25 

So that's the state of things in general. Now we start getting to the down 
and dirty polemic material. But first it has to be set in a proper context. One 
has to know in some sense or, at least, think one has to know something of the 
period... 

Well, okay, there's something called Trotskyism. Except there isn't something 
called Trotskyism. There's really not, because some of the things that are inclu- 
ded among itl I got a not unattractive periodical on my way in here. And here's 
a hammer and sickle and a "4" on it and it's called Socialist Voice . And I looked 
and it ' s state-capitalist and , oh Jesus , it's Sy Landy ! . . . and it ' s a measure^ In 
the 1930s at least we had this virtue: if you called yourself a Trotskyite /sic/ 
it meant that, of one hundred revolutionary socialist Marxists in the world, 99% 
of them said, "Oh, Trotsky is a hopeless sectarian locked up in Russia. Why he 
won't even let the Chinese, let that nice decent nationalist Chiang Kai-shek have 
the Manchurian Railway." 

And Trotskyism is an "in" word now. The tendency, the attempt is made to say 
that it's not a doctrine anymore. It's a statement that we're some kind of leftist 
and that we don't think eternal truth is locked up with Comrade X in Peking, espe- 
cially since it turns out to be X, Y, or Z, and that ain't good. And the harder 
Maoist types, looking for a spiritual homeland that has state power, are now look- 
ing at Tirana /capital of Albania/. /TaughterJ 

Robertson now scolds Maoists looking to Albania for political leadership by 
taking racist swipes at the Albanians. The SL audience reacts to this disgusting 
performance as though they were at a burlesque house. 

WE HAVE HAD OUR COMRADES CHECKING, AND IT IS NOT YET ASSURED, BUT WE BELIEVE 
THAT MARX REFERRED TO THE ALBANIANS AS "GOAT-FUCKERS" . IS THAT TRUE? /loud 

laughter/ but then he was prone to be ethnically pejorative of races, /faughter 
risesT AND IT MUST be pointed out that, to this day, and under the conditions of 

THE FOURTH FIVE YEAR PLAN, THE PRODUCTION OF GOATS IS STILL THE PRINCIPAL. . ./Here 

Robertson is cut short by laughing 3 whistling and applauding SLers^/ 

So, Trotskyism. There's a tendency to make it just a word. We want to be 
more programmatic than that. So that everybody says, "I'm a Trotskyite. I'm a 
Trotskyite . " 

Now in 1966, I had the temerity amidst a bunch of warm and gentle Healyites 
to say that I thought (this is in London, right? Healy wasn't in the room, but 
he was listening on the intercom) that the United Secretariat had not been defeated 
and that it was necessary to wage a political struggle against them. That was 
1966. The United Secretariat is the principle international (erstwhile interna- 
tional) repository of what claims to be Trotskyism. And therefore, we have the 
not overly happy task of pointing out that this is not Trotskyism, that this is 
virtually every kind of goddamned other middle ground between revolutionary Marxism 
and out and out shameless reformism that each of the generations of the socialist 
movement have had to contend with for a hundred years. And furthermore, to even 
(typically, not furthermore, but characteristically) to say the name "United Secre- 
tariat" immediately is like "Heinz' 57 Varieties" — which one? I want to talk 
about pretty many of those. But in talking about them, you must keep in mind the 
conjuncture that I've talked, that I've just kind of started, made_an effort to 
impressionistically, in fact, it was tailored to make this /point?/ 

TJie speaker's criticisms of the United Secretariat in Europe here are scarcely 
political. They are rather moral preachments on the evils of hippie life. 

THE MAJORITY OF THE UNITED SECRETARIAT, ASSOCIATED WITH ERNEST MANDEL (AN 
EXTREMELY BRIGHT MAN; HE KNOWS LOTS OF LANGUAGES. AND ERUDITE!) AND A WHOLE GANG 
OF YOUNG, VERY HARD, VERY MACHO GUYS WHO (ALL OF THEM FROM FRANCE) , WHO ALL THINK 
THEY'RE MOVIE ACTORS. "It's Alain Krivine, hurray 1" I've seen these rallies in 
Europe; "It's Alain Krivine, hurray!" /TaughterJ And the light shows and the rest. 



27 

But they're centrists. . .and how does this centrism express itself? Above all, in 
not being locked in to a chance in any particular country anywhere. BECAUSE 
THEY'RE LIKE PIRATES FLOATING: THE NEW MASS VANGUARD, THE HIPPIE YOUTH OF EUROPE 
WEARING TORN BLUE JEANS AND TURNING ON WITH VARIOUS CHEMICALS, FLOATING BACK AND 
FORTH ACROSS EUROPE SINGING REVOLUTIONARY SONGS. That's the new mass vanguard. 
And something happens in Portugal— five thousand of them go down there, to groove . 
/laughter/ 

Another component, little more sinister, is necessary to understand it all — 
an interest in conciliating the Stalinists some way or other. So it's very easy 
to say, "Ho Chi Minh is a great revolutionary leader, period. — P.S.s We do not 
mention he shot the revolutionists? worse than shot, he did them to death in un- 
pleasant ways in Indochina." And to be very soft as long as the Chinese were 
talking out of the left side of their mouths. So, it's an appetite, not locatable 
in any particular country, of a kind of bonapartism /sioj. 

So, they thought it was really groovy that all these lieutenants and captains 
and an occasional major in the Portuguese army (I forget the name of their eclectic 
council) were building, you know, maybe gonna build socialism in Portugal (only 
most of them weren't); maybe Carvalho would; maybe there was gonna be a deal with 
the Stalinist party. So, essentially, that's the kind of diffuse form of bonapart- 
ism, not yet locatable in any particular country. As soon as you get a particular 
country — like the guys in Ceylon did, you sell out and become ministers; you be- 
come "responsible". BUT IN THE MEANTIME, YOU CAN REALLY MAKE IT WITH THE CHICKS 
IN PARIS IF YOU SAY, "BY THE WAY, I JUST CAME BACK FROM MADRID WHERE I SMUGGLED IN 
PLASTIQUE TO THE BASQUES TO OFF A BUNCH OF CABINET MINISTERS." You know, ^Wowl 
that's really where it's at!" I'm not kidding you. /voice becomes heated^/ YOU 
WANT TO KNOW THE REAL SOCIAL FABRIC OF THE UNITED SECRETARIAT? THAT'S IT! 

/calmlijj But, they have a lot of people and they really want a revolution of 
some kind, somewhere, somehow. And maybe Marx is a little old hat and Pierre 
Frank is telling us that the Transitional Program is not to be taken literally, 
only in its spirit (which is diffuse) and, so, you have the USec Majority. 

Robertson here indulges in non-sequitur, sketching a scenario in which poli- 
tically bankrupt revisionists 3 the "floating pirates of Europe" he has castigated, 
would 3 without the prior existence of a revolutionary party t form a core of revo- 
lutionary opposition to the popular front in Portugal. 

Now, there's a quality about them, and it's why I want to speak of them first. 
If I've suggested that the international Spartacist tendency is not egotistical, 
it's because, given a proper subjective /state?/ (You see, truth is not laid out 
in one's own subjective will. The people of the Communist Cadre are not all wrong. 
There are also objective circumstances.), if willy-nilly — that is, without Bolshe- 
viks in Portugal — the situation had gone to a clearcut dual power, a large section 
(magnitude undetermined.) of the United Secretariat Majority, concretely, given 
sufficient pedagogy of reality, hard revolutionary reality, could well have pola- 
rized against the popular front, instead of finding little disingenuous ways to 
support it. "For Dual Power! For a Bolshevik Party!" Under these conditions and 
under these programmatic norms — real ones, felt ones, fought for— we would have 
joined together in an instant and have no difficulty with it. And that can happen. 
But we want to keep the baby and pour out the bathwater of Pierre Frank, Ernest 
Mandel, Livio (who's pouring himself out now because he doesn't accept self-criti- 
cism in order to get a deal with Hansen) and get to those of the youngsters who 
empirically have the possibility of learning, under the test of events, and, hope- 
ful?.*/, with the spur of our arguments, how it is that you make a proletarian revo- 
lution, and learning how it is, at the same time wanting to do so. 

Then there's the USec Majority. Or there used to be a USec Majority. Not 
any more; there are now two. There's the Socialist Workers Party — write them off 
simply, unconditionally, totally as an organization. Write them off. They are 
reformist; they are locked hopelessly in to bourgeois democracy, constitutional 



28 

processes, and a touching faith in all capitalist cops, courts, and judges. Unfor- 
tunately, in life, while you must write them off as a tendency, as a current, all 
over the world in various countries you will have groupings that will find that 
the USec Majority is not good. It engages in adventures; it engages in its own 
kind of flamboyant radical opportunism.; it wants to send ten kids off into the 
countryside with guns to rally the peasants and they all get shot. And then .Hansen 
comes plodding along and says, "It is necessary to build a revolutionary party of 
the proletariat." And so, in Venezuela, or somewhere else, the USec Minority of 
the SWP has rallied around it people who are recoiling for correct reasons from the 
USec Majority. Ah! And here_' s the_problem elsewhere and vice-versa. 

...Furthermore, they /the SWP/ made a deal with a guy called Moreno in Argen- 
tina who had a party that nobody could ever figure out how big it was because the 
definition of membership was too ill-defined and you got the impression that any- 
body who ever bought a newspaper on a street corner from one of their sellers was 
a member. But they claimed thousands and they had close to a majority. But More- 
no's PSP (Party Socialist Proletario, I suppose). Something has happened in Argen- 
tina — I'm speaking now about the Bolshevik Tendency. And it's important although 
it doesn't turn up here. What happened in Argentina was (So who's Moreno? He's 
been around for about twenty, thirty years and he's always tried whatever he 
could do. In the old days, his newspaper used to say, "Published under the revolu- 
tionary discipline of General Peron himself," and a big picture of Peron. That's 
wher. he was working the Peronista rap. And then, during the second legal Peronista 
period, he signed the popular front document: "Long live democracy and democratic 
processes in Argentina — by the way, why don't you stop killing our cadres?") And 
then Argentina — the ice has closed over there. It's a hard place. So the PSP 
cannot swallow the pure legalism, constitutionalism, passivity, pacifism, and all 
the rest of that stuff that the would-be social-democratic SWP would because they 
haven't cracked the labor movement... 

Especially over Portugal, they broke. (Very useful debate. You ought to get 
a hold of the SWP's bulletin, if it's even published, in which Mandel and Joe 
Hansen debate. On one side there's a guy who says he's for revolution and Leninism 
and all the rest of that stuff, and then the SWP's busy saying, "No, no, we gotta 
have democracy." It sounds just like Karl Kautsky. ) 

SO THE PSP BROKE, AND BECAUSE THEY'VE GOT SORT OF A LATIN FRANCHISE AND THEY'VE 
GOT SOME RESOURCES, AND A BUNCH OF ARGENTINES, THEY'RE MOVING IN IN SPAIN, GRABBED 
MOST EVERYBODY IN LATIN AMERICA. And they're quite annoying because that Moreno's 
an adventurer. I'm sure he never read our stuff, but he's gotta have a third posi- 
tion, leaning in the direction of the USec Majority. He's against guerrillaism 
and all that; he excoriates the minority in the SWP over Angola for being neutral 
in a civil war militarily. He says: How can you possibly, in the middle of a 
revolutionary/counter-revolutionary period believe in pure legality when the agents 
of legality are killing you? So the Bolshevik Tendency's out there floating 
around now. And it's not well known in the northern hemisphere because it doesn't 
carry much weight in Europe outside of Spain or in the United Secretariat. BUT 
THEY ALSO RIPPED OFF SOME MEXICANS. 

So that's this. With a program that empirically looks rather like our own~ 
which gives us pause since we know this Moreno. But he may get the best of the 
Spaniards and Spain's moving toward revolution... 

So that's it then. And furthermore it's very hard to work in Latin America. 
You try it and you have dead comrades fast. 

There follows here in deleted remarks a lengthy 3 though scarcely illuminating, 
discussion of regroupment potentialities in the Fourth International. Every group 
comes up for a one or two- sentence "analysis". Robertson then states the SB's op- 
position to the smear campaign currently being conducted by Gerry Healy of the 
British Workers Revolutionary Party against Joseph Hansen of the Socialist Workers 
Party in the US S with Healy accusing Hansen of being an accomplice to Trotsky 's 
assassination. Finally, Robertson comes to an attempted analysis of the political 



29 

alignments of the Fourth International groupings. 

Okay, so the big axis of division among those who call themselves Trotskyists 
(and I'm excluding the fringe groups that have defeatist positions on the Soviet 
Union) is: Are you oriented to a bourgeois-democratic, social-democratic trade 
union base, or do you want to play at some kind of bonapartism ranging from terror- 
ism, to Stalinism through nationalism? And these are appetites. It's not an iron 
rule, but that's the tendency now for a regroupinent shakeout among these forces. 

Meanwhile, each wing — and especially the centrist wing — does throw off elem- 
ents that are susceptible to revolutionary Marxism, especially because, to the 
extent that the proletariat raises its head as a conscious class engaging in class 
struggle and exhibiting its appetites for the objective situation of, the precipi- 
tation of a revolutionary situation, the program of Trotskyism turns out to be 
something much more vital than just a bunch of words that some old fud who's been 
dead for thirty years wrote in a book. And so we want to be around as a propaganda 
group, where we can, making these points} where we have more strength, directly 
participating at whatever modest level in the class struggle of the workers. Large- 
ly, of course, our problem is that we've been locked up in North America, tending 
to break out in Europe, and a very little bit in South Asia. 

In deleted remarks, Robertson discusses a letter sent to the SL by the Workers 
League which accused the SL of a "provocative false policy of violence" and urged 
its leadership to "call your members to order". Given the SL's pacifist proclivi- 
ties in the face of any threat of physical violence 3 this is of course a baseless 
accusation. Robertson points out that the Workers League is itself noted for sec- 
tarian physical attacks on leftists attempting to leaflet, attend, or intervene in 
WL meetings, and he expresses the hope that this WL letter to the SL presages a 
turn away from such behavior on the WL's part. After this diversion, Robertson 
returns to the main thread of the talk. 

So, how do we handle all of this? Just a small organization of a few hundred 
on the face of a very large planet. WELL, FOR OWE THING, IT IS VERY GOOD, IF WE 
HAVE TO BE LOCKED UP LARGELY IN ONE REGION OF THE EARTH, IT IS THAT IT IS NORTH 
AMERICA BECAUSE OF THE WAGE STANDARDS HERE. Mercifully, we have an industrial base 
— not so merciful for the comrades that have to work forced overtime in auto and 
steel, I'll grant you that, but it gives us a big wage basis. Now, we have a poli- 
cy against race and class guilt-tripping people. I sometimes falsely regret that 
principle, but it is necessary for our own sanitation. So that we have never gone 
to anybody in an Ivy League school that we know has one million dollars and said: 
"This is it, babe — either put up your whole inheritan£e right now or you're no 
good." So we don't have much money, the way that VL/Vrogressive Labor Party/ used 
to get it, but we do have industrial workers and occasionally we even get a little 
windfall money. But a little windfall money in North America is a good deal rela- 
tive to elsewhere in the world, although our German comrades should begin to pro- 
duce something soon since they're paying... in the coal mines as much or more than 
American coal miners get. 

Having given what is apparently the material basis for Robertson's belief in 
the basic superiority of the US as an arena for revolutionary struggle — the afflu- 
ence of the US economy — Robertson proceeds to outline the conditions for maintain- 
ing an international movement. Slipping in an obligatory mention of the primacy 
of programmatic agreement, Robertson explains how one goes about ensuring the 
"cohesiveness" of an "International", i.e., as a CTC speaker later points out, of 
an international debating society. 

You see, it needn't come to a question of money, if you want to talk about the 
international movement. It was an amazing act that a Marx or a Lenin were able to 
develop international cohesiveness in a time in which there was no long distance 



30 

telephone, in which letters and personal communication required, at a minimum, 
weeks. As a very small international organization, we can remain cohesive. Yes, 
in the first place (and it's true in Marx and Lenin's time, too), we have to have 
a common and sufficient and characteristic program which we believe, in our be- 
nighted state, answers in broad outline the tasks of the working class to come to 
power. But that's not enough if you're small. And I suspect maybe, I want to 
apologize for the comrades of the — what? Communist Collective? Communist Cadre! — 
that maybe that idea that you have to have a vast objective development (like a 
German Social Democracy or a Russian Revolution) to come together /is misplaced? — 
inaudible/. You can also do it with a certain measure of money. To keep yourself 
together, that means that every year or every six months_ you meet together from 
all the planets, er, all the continents of the earth, /laughter/... But there's a 
lot of money problems. They allow us to remain cohesive if we have the political 
basis. . . 

So, I want to throw that out because it constitutes in a sense — IF OUR PARTY 
WAS BASED ON TEN COMMANDMENTS, THE ELEVENTH ONE WOULD BE MONEY. And not money, 
money only in relationship to the post-second world war era — the jet aircraft, the 
overseas telephone, and the xerox. Otherwise all the money on earth would not 
permit international cohesiveness ... 

Now, therefore, in our efforts to intersect the class struggle internationally 
either in a propagandists way among those who are the self-declared revolutionists 
(the little groupings around the world) or, where we are stronger, and above all 
on the American West Coast therefore, and also elsewhere, we have, that's the cask 
that is set for us. And it requires in addition to programmatic and historical 
development that's buried in too many Marxist bulletins, the weekly press and 
particular tools. But before I get to that — which is what I want to end up with, 
I think— I want to talk about another thing here, that in an elliptical way indi- 
cates that the United States is the basis for our strength. 

So, what about the American section? Any experienced politician in the au- 
dience can tell on the basis of the description that I've given of the conjuncture 
in North America about where we're at. We're fairly static. Unlike the Maoists 
and most other groups, we have not disintegrated, we've not had qualitative losses, 
but we're surely not going anywhere. There's a dribble of members who've been in 
for a while, our youth bring us new members, but not enough because the campuses 
are quiet. And so, we're simply holding. 

Robertson in deleted remarks notes that the SL has had no major internal dis- 
sension "for a number of years" and that their reaent "trade union activists con- 
ference' 9 left him "■particularly gratified". 

WHEN YOU SIT IN YOUR ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICES IT'S TOO EASY TO BELIEVE THAT 
YOUR WHOLE MEMBERSHIP IS JUST A BIG BAG OF SHIT THAT THE CENTRAL LEADERSHIP IS 
DRAGGING BEHIND IT, AND THAT /if/ THE CENTRAL LEADERSHIP MAKES A SERIOUS POLITICAL 
MISTAKE, THERE ARE WITHIN YOUR ORGANISATION NO RESTORATIVE FORCES. 

Here Robertson hastens to assure his membership, in deleted remarks, that they 
are not a big bag of shit — the lesson, it appears, of the trade union conference 
in which the members somehow made clear to the leadership that they "can act as a 
corrective" to the leadership. 

So it's a pretty strong organization. What this means , therefore , for the 
American section is that in this period of relative social — it's false to say 
quiescence because the country groans with misery, exploitation, oppression, the 
inability for any section of the masses to find a way out — that in the next five 
or ten years (five or ten years, comrades — and for all I know that will be next 
week — but five or ten years) , we can put our tendency in this country on an inter- 
section with the living processes of the class struggle (and that doesn't mean 
Arnold Miller and that guy from steel) , that we can play the kind of role that 



31 

we're supposed to in the class struggle here. In Europe, in one way, because 
we're much weaker, our opportunities are much richer. See, in the United States 
we regrouped ourselves through successful regroupment out of chances to have 
fusion with forces that are close to us. All tendencies that I know of (and I 
picked up more bulletins and pamphlets; I'll read them tonight) are at a consider- 
able programmatic and political distance from us in the United States. In the 
United States, with our much smaller forces there have been very few regroupments 
... In a Germany, a France, an England, I think we have the possibility to grow 
by leaps. 

BUT, IF TWENTY-FIVE PEOPLE CAME TO OUR TENDENCY IN THE UNITED STATES TOMORROW 
AND SAID, "WE WANT TO JOIN," WELL, THAT WOULD BE VERY NICE— ABOVE ALL BECAUSE IT 
WOULD DEPRIVE OUR OPPONENTS OF TWENTY-FIVE PEOPLE — BUT YOU WOULD HARDLY NOTICE IT 
IN THE SL. (OH, THE PERSONNEL SECRETARIAT WOULD HAVE A FEW MORE ORGANIZERS TO FARM 
OUT SOMEWHERE, BUT THAT WOULD BE ABOUT IT.) 

I see that I have one other great big point and I'll try to encapsulate it in 
a couple of sentences and I donJ_t know that it will grab you very much in this 
country, but it's a crucial. . ./inaudible sentence/ 

The following panegyric to the "national tradition" of US Trotskyism was a 
performance that seemed to bring Robertson olose to tears. In this astonishing 
passage 3 Robertson thanks US imperialism for creating a safe haven for the mainte- 
nance of Trotskyist politics. Bis contention that only in the US "was there a 
continuous Leninist-Trotskyist tradition embodied in an organization and a cadre" 
is patently false. As the CTC leaflet pointed out 3 not only the European Trotsky- 
ists 3 but also Cannon and the SWP degenerated rapidly after Trotsky's death and the 
end of the second world war. While factions within the SWP raised Trotskyist po- 
litics against the Cannon leadership's liquidation of Trotskyism, none of these 
factions or tendencies established Trotskyist parties. 

Robertson points to the mere physical survival of self-identified Trotskyists 
in the US as evidence of political superiority! It is oust this trust in bourgeois 
democracy's providing of an arena for political organizing that informs the SL's 
treacherous position on Hungary: Better the chance of counter-revolution where 
bourgeois democracy enables us to organize 3 than a deformed workers' state where 
Stalinism denies us such an arena! 

In our polemics, in our quarreling, in our informal discussions, in our agree- 
ments with an awful lot of the European comrades of the United Secretariat, or out 
of the United Secretariat, or independent Trotskyists, they say: "Oh, you Americans 
are raw, provincial, and basically know nothing." Well, very well... there's a 
tendency to be deferential. But what they mean by that is not, in general, Ameri- 
can provincials. What they mean iss "In terms of the lessons of revolutionary 
Marxism, you're ignoramuses and we're where it's at, and, furthermore, your James 
P. Cannon (let's quote Wohlforth) , is a /windowsmasherfj ? ." Now that is not true 
and that is where we've got to insurrect. 

Only in Germany can I work my way through a menu, and certainly not in script. 
But , in the post- Leninist Comintern, if you take a look at the revolutionary sec- 
tions internationally /Here Robertson' s tone becomes demagogic, as though he had 
been personally insulted. His following remarks refer to the Trotskyist movement 
in the '30s and 'iOs^J: There were the Chinese — their Central Committee spent five 
years, from 1932 to 1937 in jail, and they constitute nothing therefore as a revo- 
lutionary tradition. The Russians were mainly in jail and were all butchered in 
'41. Deutscher and the Polish gang sold out early. The French were always split. 
The Greeks were locked into archeo-Marxist anti-national self-determinationism. 
The British never existed. 

ONLY IN THE UNITED STATES, HOWEVER BAD THE EXPERIENCE WAS IN THE THIRTIES 
HERE, WAS THERE A CONTINUOUS LENINIST-TROTSKYIST TRADITION EMBODIED IN ORGANIZATION 
AND A CADRE. AND, HOWEVER CRITICALLY WE TAKE A LOOK AT THE HISTORY OF THE AMERI- 
CAN SECTION, /his voice becomes half-choked/ IT'S THE ONLY ONE THAT RECEIVED ALL 



32 

THE BLOWS, HAD TO MAKE ALL THE POLITICAL RESPONSES, HAD TO DEAL WITH ALL THE QUES- 
TIONS THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE PERIOD. AND WE'RE NOT EVEN SPEAKING OF THE COMRADES 
IN GERMANY AND ITALY WHERE THEIR DICTATORS WIPED THEM OUT. So, I don't suppose 
that that's an issue that's going to grab an American audience very much. BUT, IN 
FACT, IN A CRITICAL WAY, BECAUSE OF THE PROTECTION OF A VERY POWERFUL, IMPERIALIS- 
TICALLY-BASED BOURGEOIS DEMOCRACY, IN THE LAST THIRTY YEARS WE HAVE HAD THE PRIVI- 
LEGE, IF WE USE IT WELL— AND OTHERWISE WE HAVE IT NOT AT ALL— OF THE ONLY CONTINU- 
OUS REVOLUTIONARY MARXIST EXPERIENCE ON THE FACE OF THE PLANET i AND THAT'S WHAT 
CANNONISM HAD BETTER MEAN. 

Last point. /Robertson mentions in deleted remarks that for some time the SL 
has "been working on a brief dealaration of principles around which the SL could 
rally forces sympathetic to their tendency. He describes and reads from a draft of 
this declaration^/ What we had in mind was the kind of thing that Trotsky did 
under analogous circumstances in the early thirties when he wanted to take a series 
of key positions regarding. . .the Anglo- Russian Trade Union Committee and correspon- 
ding big issues which contained within them major political experiences, lessons... 
So this is the declaration that we want to throw out to the world... As I recall, 
the title of this talk was "Towards the Rebirth of the Fourth International".. .the 
regrouping of the alleged vanguard and the participation of the mass struggles. 

And for us — and we're quite unashamed about it — we're not workerist. For us, 
the regrouping of the vanguard when we're very small is the thing that is available 
to us. We're not going to bring the masses^ to us, the way Communist Cadre thinks 
we are. And so, here's what the comrade /who wrote this draft/ had to say: 

"The declaration should speak to whatever leftward forces, motion there is in 
the United Secretariat and identify where they are. It should be simple so it can 
be easily translated into many languages and should bring responses. 

"The undersigned call for the reforging of the Fourth International. . .based 
particularly on the first four congresses of the Communist International, the 
Transitional Program and other documents adopted by the 1938 founding congress of 
the Fourth International, the break of the International from Pabloite revisionism 
...and the program and practice of the international Spartacist tendency." 

The document, as quoted by Robertson in deleted remarks* goes on to specify 
various points of principle: no political or electoral support to the popular 
front; no political support to Stalinist "factions or cliques"; for political re- 
volution against the Stalinist bureaucracies in all the workers' states; rejection 
of "socialism in one country"; reaffirmation of the necessity to build communist 
trade union fractions based on the Transitional Program; for the tactic of the 
united front from above; "recognition of the validity of the tactic of regroupment 
to unite subjective revolutionary militants on a firm programmatic basis through a 
process of splits and fusions into a vanguard party; for the exposure of centrism; 
rejection of the claims "of all the ostensibly Trotskyist organizations to repre- 
sent the programmatic continuity of the Fourth International which was destroyed 
by Pabloite revision in 7953"; against such groups' "unbridled maneuverings"; for 
the "reforging of a democratic centralist Fourth International which will stop at 
nothing short of the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat. " 

Now that's a good first draft as a statement of all those who have been ex- 
pelled from or driven out of the United Secretariat who are rallied in or around 
the international Spartacist tendency. /Robertson, in deleted remarks, says addi-_ 
tional points can be added, e.g., the electoral tactic of conditional opposition^/ 
Something else that has to go in there, especially now. We're not only interested 
in facilitating the polarization of the United Secretariat Majority. There are an 
awful lot of subjectively decent Maoists and hard Stalinists in the world (not many 
of them in the United States) and whenever you run into a one-stage Maoist (who 
doesn't have the theory of stages. .. .you sometimes run into some Maoist collectives 
and organizations that believe that you can simply fight for the dictatorship of 
the proletariat), whenever you run into such groups, they are in complete, top-to- 
bottom, implicit contradiction to every variant of Stalinism. And we would surely_ 
like to unite with such people if we could break through and explain... /inaudible/ 

So that's pretty much what we're about, in terms of the_time allotment which 
says, "that's^ one and a half hours." Thank you, comrades, /end of Robertson's 
pres entation/ 



33 



PART II: DISCUSSION 



The chair called first upon Walter Dahl of the League for the Revolutionary 
Party (LRP), one of a few organizations that the SL calls upon frequently at their 
meetings since the MP's state-capitalist politics provide the SL with a convenient 
target behind which they hide from their more serious political opponents. Dahl's 
comments are important here, however, since they aroused repeated indignant replies 
from SL speakers — replies in which some SLers "out-Robertsoned" Robertson in chau- 
vinism and contempt for the oppressed. 

DAHL (LRP) : That was the most disgusting speech I ever had the misfortune of hear- 
ing. Comrade Robertson has opened up by putting down every_non-white , 
non-American, non-English speaking people /applause from the SL audience/ and 
working class that you've graced with your disgusting presence. There's no people 
worth talking about in Indochina? The Greeks make their living by selling expen- 
sive watches? The Canadians are a "fringe"? I didn't even hear what you said 
about the Albanians, thank the Lord. The ghetto blacks are waiting for what, Com- 
rade Robertson? There are £easons for that kind of cynicism and snideness that we 
have heard here tonight. . ./Dahl proceeds to link Robertson's chauvinism with the 
SL position on the class character of the USSR. While the SL's neo-Shachtmanite 
hostility to the Soviet Union (accompanied by a formally correct position of defense) 
is linked to their US chauvinism, it is not in the manner that Dahl suggests. Out 
of the political blindness to reality that informs the LRP position that the Soviet 
Union is "state capitalist", Dahl projects a "Pabloite" conciliationism to the 
Stalinist bureaucracy onto the SL^/ 

It is no wonder that, Comrade Robertson, you have no tendencies in any of the 
oppressed countries of the world after that disgusting performance... 

Comrade Ross of Communist Cadre refutes the revisionist position of the SL 
that the political revolution is the "smashing of the Stalinist state", and explains 
the roots and treacherous consequences of this position. 

ROSS (CTC) : I've only heard Lyn Marcus speak once and I've got to say that this 
man has outdone him in vulgarity, /loud laughter/ 

There is no such creature as "the Stalinist state"; Trotsky never, ever used 
the term "Stalinist state" and he never called for the "smashing of the Stalinist 
state." You know where you'll find that term? You'll find it on the cover of Max 
Shachtman's book. The Bureaucratic Revolution; The Rise of the Stalinist State . 
And that's what it betrays — Shachtmanism. Now, states are loyal to classes only, 
and it's this fact that makes the political revolution possible. 

Prior to 1933, Trotsky felt that revolutionary leadership and internal demo- 
cracy could be restored to the CPSU, and consequently a revolutionary government 
restored to the Soviet Union, through a peaceful factional struggle within the CP. 
ML a iL 1933, Trotsky became convinced that the CPSU could not be reformed, that a 
na-'i party must be built in the Soviet Union and that only through violent insurrec- 
tionary struggle could the political rule of the bureaucracy be overthrown and a 
new party be brought to governmental power and Bolshevik rule be restored in the 
Soviet Union. That's the political revolution. 

Trotsky never, ever asserted that the state apparatus in the Soviet Union must 
be destroyed. It's true, sections of the state apparatus will remain loyal exclu- 
sively to the political rule of the bureaucracy; others will opt for capitalist 
restoration, and both wings must be destroyed. As an historical example, the 1848 
Revolution in France resulted in a political revolution within the capitalist 
state which by and large remained intact in its majority. It passed from a bour- 



34 

geois monarchy to a bourgeois republic. It was on the basis of such historical 
examples that Trotsky developed the concept of proletarian political revolution. 

Trotsky believed that the majority of the bureaucracy— yes , the bureaucracy- - 
would be opposed to political revolution, of course, and that in many instances it 
would not be unlikely that the majority of the bureaucracy would opt for capitalist 
restoration. But he never asserted that the workers' state apparatus itself — 
which is not the same as the bureaucracy — would have to be destroyed. 

Asserting that the Stalinist state must be smashed is an open revision of 
Trotskyism. It asserts that the bureaucracy rules not only politically, but 
socially . States are ultimately the instruments of class rule. This formula of 
-smashing the Stalinist state is nothing less than a formula for counter-revolution 
— which is exactly what you used it for in that article_in the 1966 Spartacist on 
the Hungarian uprising, /see Spartacist 3 Nov. -Dec. 1966/ It's a formula for 
betrayal and it must be renounced if you ever hope to pretend to become real 
Trotskyists . 

Robertson replies by lightly "vacating the formulation" of "smashing the Sta- 
linist state" — a formulation his followers have heatedly defended in political 
arguments since 1966. He simply "modifies" the SL's neo-Shachtmanite formulation 
by changing "smashed" to "destroyed" and "Stalinist state" to "Stalinist state 
apparatus". 

ROBERTSON : OKAY, I RENOUNCE IT! It's simple. Look. So you wrote a pretty serious 

thing, and if the phrase "Stalinist state" by itself appears, it's 
susceptible to a number of interpretations, including a new class theory. NOW, I 
SIMPLY SAY, I VACATE THE FORMULATION. NOW, EVERY WEEK I READ ARTICLES IN WORKERS 
VANGUARD AND I VACATE THE FORMULATIONS, I DISAGREE WITH THEM. BUT SO WHAT? 

THE STALINIST STATE APPARATUS MUST BE DESTROYED. Are you trying to say that, 
deep in our hearts, we really have a new class theory? Check with those guys from 
the LRW /LHP/ if you think so. You'll find out that we're real hardened Pabloites 
inured to sell out to Stalinism^ No, the Russian state is not a new class, and 
it's a kind of hobby horse /sic/. Send us a letter and we will repudiate the formu- 
lation if in fact you've found one. You see, I once acknowledged this like this to 
somebody who'd misinterpreted with malice. I don't think you have. I think you 
probably found a defective formulation in our press in 1966. And I don't make any 
demagogy that it was eleven years ago, because eleven weeks ago I could find bad 
formulations, too! 

But if you are trying to tell this audience that we are smuggling in new class 
theories when, I quote, and you call for a "reform"! AND /it's/ NECESSARY TO 
OBLITERATE THE STALINIST APPARATUS THAT HAS BEEN RAISED UPON THE RUSSIAN WORKERS' 
STATE. THAT APPARATUS, THOSE MEANS OF RULE, ALL THOSE MINISTRIES, ALL THAT MILI- 
TARY APPARATUS, EVERYTHING IS DESIGNED TO TAKE THE SOCIAL SURPLUS FROM THE RUSSIAN 
WORKING PEOPLE AND SQUANDER IT IN THE HANDS OF THE BUREAUCRACY. AND THAT HAS TO 
BE DESTROYED AND DONE AWAY WITH — AND THAT'S TROTSKYISM! 

So please, if you've got a different position from us and you find a bad quote 
from us, do not load in — saying, you know, "Oh well, we hold Trotsky's position 
(except that we really don't) and you've got this other position over here and a 
bad quote." That's a bad thing to do. It does not aid anyone. 

Having taken Communist Cadre to task for doing a "bad thing" — i.e., exposing 
the fact that the SL does not have Trotsky 's position on the question of political 
revolution — Robertson turns to a less formidable opponent to chastise — Walter Dahl 
of the LHP. 

The same thing as being race-baited by this chap — Dahl? "Petty bourgeois 
cynicism and snideness"? "That the petty bourgeoisie creates socialism"? I was 
trying to figure out what he was about. He said, "It's no wonder that there's no 
supporters of your tendencies in oppressed countries." Well, I thought, how nice 



35 

it is for_the Chileans and the Indians that they're not oppressed, or the Ceylonesel 
/laughter/ So that's not a responsive thing. 

/Here, Robertson draws himself up indignantly, and stares directly at Dahl, 
in an apparent attempt to be intimidating ^J See, I don't know, look, I'm looking 
at you now I I don't know what you're about. I WAS TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHAT 
YOU'RE PEDDLING HERE. YOU'RE NOT EVEN BLACK! ( I COULD UNDERSTAND IT THEN.) So 
you get up and say all this stuff. You talk about the Canadians. (We're putting 
down all the non-whites like the Canadians.) So, I got a drift fromjthat. I was. 
putting down nationalism, Canadian nationalism, Anglo-nationalism. /Robertson 
fails to note that he did not have a harsh word in his talk for VS_ national chau- 
vinism — only a paean of praise to US n Trotskyism's" national tradition^/ 

He's misguided, of course... I couldn't figure out what the devil you xeally 
were about except that I'm led to believe that you equate the claims of nationalists 
with their oppression. And if that is the case, I urge you sometime to study the 
mutual genocide between the Turks and the Armenians and try to figure out, if you 
really absorb that history, which national people is right. 

The Turkish/Armenian conflict is the favorite historical example raised by 
SLers to support their anti-Leninist theory that "all nationalism is equally 
reactionary", their support of Israeli and Afrikaner "right" to self-determination, 
and their refusal to militarily support the Palestinian resistance and Lebanese 
left in Lebanon. 

And our position is that we don't think any of them should be killed. We 
believe that Turkish and Armenian workers, or on Cyprus correspondingly, constitute 
the dictatorship of the proletariat. AND I THINK THAT WHILE YOU RAISE THE BANNER 
OF THE BROWN-SKINNED PEOPLE, I SUSPECT THAT WHAT'S BEHIND THIS WAS SOME KIND OF 
MORALISTIC OVPITU1ATION_TO_NATIONALISM WHICH GENERALLY IS A COVER FOR GENOCIDE. AS 
THE OPPRESSED GERMANS /sic/ , LOSERS IN A GREAT WORLD WAR, OPPRESSED. 

Robertson thus identifies Germany as an oppressed nation following World War I. 
Several speakers later, the chair calls on a man who did not identify himself by 
name or organisational affiliation, 

SPEAKER FROM FLOOR (unidentified) : It seems to me that one of the hallmarks of your 

tendency is its antagonism to nationalism as an ideology and 
indeed to many nationalist movements. And yet, what stands out in sharp contrast 
with that general position is your support for Israeli self-determination or, as 
you call it, "the Hebrew-speaking nation". I'd like to ask you to try to reconcile 
those two positions. And to add on to that the question: DO YOU SUPPORT THE RIGHT 
OF self-determination OF THE BOERS IN SOUTH AFRICA? /laughter and clapping from 
audience/ 

Robertson, in responding to this speaker, establishes the SL pattern for the 
night of demagogically linking defense of oppressed nationalities with the advoca- 
tion of genocide against the oppressor nationality. This unprincipled mode of 
argument is based, in turn, on confusing the right of self-determination — the right 
to a nation state — with the right to a national existence. 

ROBERTSON : YES, OF COURSE, WE DO! More laughter/ THERE'S ABOUT THREE MILLION OF 

THEM. AND I'LL TELL YOU A THING, BY THE WAY: IF YOU SAY THE BOERS 
HAVE NO RIGHT TO EXIST—THEY HAVE A MODERN INDUSTRIAL ECONOMY AND A WEAPONS ESTAB- 
LISHMENT— IF THEY HAVE NO RIGHT TO EXIST, THEN THEY HAVE NO MORAL LIMITS TO FOLLOW, 
DO THEY? TO KILL EVERY BLACK AFRICAN (WHICH THEY CAN DO IN ABOUT THREE DAYS IF 
THEY WANT TO) , TO DEFEND THEIR OWtf EXISTENCE, JUST LIKE ALL PEOPLE? 

PREVIOUS SPEAKER ', /palling out from the floor/ Do you defend their morality? 



36 

ROBERTSON ; Defend the morality?_The morality is the morality of nationalism! Yes, 
the Boers are /like?/ the Biharis. They have no right to exist either, 
right? They were Moslems in the Hindu province of Bihar. They fled to Bangladesh 
where they fell into the hands of the West Pakistanis as their tools. There's a 
million or two of them. There's a theory — it's a Stalinist theory — that all the 
peoples on the earth are to be divided (with jumps from time to time — you see, the 
Jews used to be progressive, now they're reactionary), that all the peoples are 
either progressive or reactionary. If you are progressive, not only do you have the 
right to exist, you have the right to do anything to your oppressors, but if you 
are a reactionary people, you have no right to exist and I have the right to kill 
you. Now, oddly enough, the peoples on the earth — the Irish, the Biharis, the Turks, 
the_Armenians , the Jews in Israel, the Palestinians — they all want to exist, /laugh- 
ter/ And I think maybe you ought to start with that, as a statement that maybe 
capitalism is rotten ripe for a social transformation, not for a genocide which re- 
does the map of Europe and the world, so that you only have some peoples. 

Now Engels wrote in the Peasant Wars that human progress has been achieved 
literally only at the expense, by marching over a mountain of human skulls. And 
that's the way it's been done. /Robertson, in_ deleted remarks, cites the_Carib Ind- 
ians' conquering of the Caribbean islands \J Are we to say that they /the Carib 
Indians/ are more progressive because they were able to do it? Are the Biharis — 
who'ce been squeezed out (cannot go to India, cannot go to West Pakistan and can- 
not stay in Bangladesh) simply to be destroyed? Because Third World progressivites 
/sic/ say, "Oh, of course, because the Biharis made common cause with the oppres- 
sors of West Pakistan." 

It's all wrong! The methodology of the horse race of the peoples. The Germans 
are good or bad; the Armenians; and Cyprus — who's good or bad? Used to be the Turks 
were good because they were being oppressed by the Greeks. Then the Turkish army 
arrived — now the Greeks are good. It's, you know, a scoreboard of who you get to 
kill because of their culture, their ethnic origin. We reject that; you're absol- 
utely right. 

AND THERE'S SEVERAL MILLION BOERS IN SOUTH AFRICA. THEY HAVE NO RIGHT TO EX- 
PLOIT AND OPPRESS THE BLACKS. THEY HAVE A RIGHT TO_LIVE. YOU THINK THEY HAVE NO 

right TO live? well, then, GO try and kill THEM! /Laughter and loud applause^ 

Not content with Robertson's distortions and baiting 3 an SL supporter proceeds 
to go him one better. 

SL SUPPORTER : I'm not a, member of the Spartacist League, but I identify with /its 

politics/. I want to reply to the downright demagogy of the LRP 
people, their members and supporters. IF YOU THINK THAT COMRADE ROBERTSON USED ALL 
KINDS OF RACIST INNUENDOES, I HAVE A BDOK I THINK YOU OUGHT TO READ. IT'S WRITTEN 
BY KARL MARX ,CaiLED THE JEWISH QUESTION . DO YOU KNOW WHAT MARX CALLED THE JEWISH 
QUESTION? HE SAYS," YOU KNOW WHAT THE JEBS XTORSHIP? THE GOLDEN CALF." HOW DO YOU 
LIKE THAT FOR RACISM? HOW DO YOU LIKE THAT FOR ANTI-SEMITISM? IF YOU THINK ROBERT- 
SON' S A RACIST, WHAT DO YOU THINK MARX WAS? 

Here the SL supporter produces an astonishing maxim — one which neither Robert- 
son nor any other SL speaker chose to disavow. 

IT'S IMPOSSIBLE TO MAKE CRITICISMS OF NATIONALITIES AND NOT TO BE RACIST! GET 
THAT THROUGH YOUR HEADS AND WRAP YOUR MINDS AROUND THAT AND STOP USING THIS AS 
DEMAGOGY. And as to the question of the comrade from, I believe from the LRP, who 
asked about: "Well, how can the Israelis have self-determination? They're the op- 
pressor." Well, okay, I'll buy that position — but on one condition, that you ex- 
plain to me how Lenin must have been a great national chauvinist, a Great Russian 
national chauvinist. You know why? Because if you read the first Soviet constitu- 
tion (the Lenin-Trotsky constitution right? — the good healthy, socialist, commun- 
ist constitution), you'll find that all th© major nationalities that have states 



37 

in the Soviet Union were entitled to self-determination, all — no exception was made 
for the Great Russian nationality. Now, how did Lenin (this lunatic, right?) sup- 
port self-determination for the Great Russian nationality, right? That's what the 
question comes down to. And if you think the Israelis were oppressors, what do you 
think of the Great Russian nationality? Were they the oppressors? Wasn't czarist 
Russia the jailhouse of nations? So if you want to pick petty picayune points, you 
have to go all the way back to the source and find the roots for any complete un- 
derstanding of what the national question is all about. That's the problem with 
this kind of logic. 

See, you have what I described a couple of weeks ago as the punishment/reward 
theory of Permanent Revolution. If you're good, you get self-determination; if 
you're bad, you get punishment. Okay do you support self-determination for the 
Ukraine? I assume you do, right?; they're oppressed. But the Ukraine has always 
been the hotbed of pogroms against the Jews. So what do you do with the Ukrainians? 
Cut them in half? /Laughter/ ...It's true. How do you think the Arabs got to the 
Middle East? They conquered it with the Islamic empire, right? From the seventh 
century on, they conquered the people there. SO EVERYBODY'S BEEN AN OPPRESSOR AND 
EVERYBODY'S BEEN OPPRESSED. AND THEREFORE WHAT EXACTLY? THEREFORE, NOTHING! There's 
no conclusions you possibly draw from something like this. It's not a Trotskyist 
approach. 

AND, BY THE WAY, IF YOUR POSITION ISN'T THAT THE ISRAELIS— THAT IS THE WORKING 
CLASS OF ISRAEL, WHICH IS WHAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT, IN THE FINAL ANALYSIS— IF THE 
HEBREW-SPEAKING POPULATION OF ISRAEL IS NOT ENTITLED TO SELF-DETERMINATION, THEN 
WHAT ARE YOU FOR— DRIVING THEM INTO THE SEA? MAKING THEM AN OPPRESSED NATIONALITY 
AND AT THAT POINT CALLING FOR SELF-DETERMINATION? DO YOU STILL HAVE TO WAIT? DO YOU 
TELL THE ISRAELI WORKING CLASS: "MAKE A SOCIALIST REVOLUTION, PEOPLE, SO YOU CAN 
GIVE UP SELF-DETERMINATION AND BE A MINORITY IN A GREAT SOCIALIST STATE." IS THIS 
THE LOGIC? Is that what it comes down to? 

And that shows that, basically, you're doing nothing but tailing after the 
aspirations of petty bourgeois nationalist movements. And that's what all this 
sharp- shooting and potshot business is with calling us racist because we support 
self-determination. Finel If you don't support self-determination for the Israelis, 
then explain to me how Lenin was wrong, explain to me what you're going to do with. 
the various segments of the Austro- Hungarian Empire. Re-Balkanize the Balkans? Is 
that what's going to happen? So, you have no answer in the final analysis. 

Robertson, following several other speakers, whose remarks are deleted here, 
returns to the subject of nationalism. He does not (nor did any other SL speaker) 
distinguish the SL position from the one given by his organization's supporter 
(above). He does not counter the speaker's sarcastic remarks on posing the alter- 
native of socialism to Zionism in Israel with the assertion that socialist revolu- 
tion is_ the only way forward in the Middle East. He does not make the necessary 
distinction between demands for self-determination under a bourgeois and under a 
workers ' state. Rather, he becomes hysterical in the face of mounting criticism 
from his audience, while playing on the more backward sentiments of his own member- 
ship. 

ROBERTSON: You know comrades, there's something very bad about liberal America. 
IT DOES NOT WANT TO CALL, IF YOU'LL PARDON THE, UH, (NO OFFENSE IN- 
TENDED) A SPADE A SPADE. /Screaming/ DO YOU KNOW ABOUT ANTI-SEMITISM AMONG BLACKS? 
DO YOU KNOW (HERE'S A THING THAT MAY SURPRISE YOU GUYS; I'M NOT SO SURE ABOUT IT, 
THOUGH^ DO YOU KNOW THAT WE HAVE A CONSIDERABLE BLACK MEMBERSHIP AND /Screaming 
louder/ SOME OF THEM THINK THAT IT" S ALL RIGHT TO KILL JEWISH SHOPKEEPERS! YES! 
THEY'RE BLACK,_RIGHT? AND IT CORRESPONDS TO THEIR EXPERIENCE. /Inaudible remark 
from audience^/ YES, OF COURSE, THEY'RE MARXISTS, AND THEY BELIEVE IT'S ALL RIGHT 
TO KILL JEWISH shopkeepers! '/Further inaudible remarks V NOW SHUT UP A MINUTE! 

/To distinguish himself apparently from "liberals" Robertson makes a pitiable 
attempt at talking "tough. V 



38 

No, that's a problem, babv, that you don't experience, you vicarious closet 
black nationalists. /Laughter^ Now let's talk about truth in America. /Voice 
vising/ THIS IS A racist country, the peoples hate each other and believe they __ 
should kill each other, don't you understand that? /Inaudible remark from audience/ 
Shut up I DonM: you understand? You don't_ like it. I know you people; I've met 
you in the /inaudible. Communist Party?/ 

You know what racial oppression is? Sidney Poitier, a neuro-brain surgeon, 
wants to move in next door and buy an $80,000 house and they won't let him. That's 
the liberal Stalinist idea of oppression in this country. 

_we have a racist country, baby i do you know what the black ghetto /Unclear 
word/ DID IN THE BURNINGS IN THE LATE 60" S? YEAH. Remember, the stores that just 
said, "Soul brother, don't burn it down"? WHO IS GOING INTO THE BLACK GHETTOS, BUT 
A POOR JEW MARKING UP 20% MORE BECAUSE HE'S BEING RIPPED OFF BY ALL THE BLACK KIDS? 
AND HE GETS BURNED DOWN, AND IN WASHINGTON, NEWARK, AND A WHOLE BUNCH OF OTHER 
PLACES, HE'S BEEN BURNED DOWN AND NEVER CMDE BACK, AND YOU DON'T LIKE IT: YOU CAN'T 
UNDERSTAND THAT. YOU'RE JUST LIKE THE GOD-DAMNED BOURGEOIS NEWSPAPERS WHO WON'T 
GIVE THE RACE IN CRIMINAL REPORTS! _ 

/Robertson' 8 agitation diminishes/ This is a racist country. You've got to 
speak the truth about what it's like in this country. The blacks and whites don't 
trust #ach other, don't like each other. The vanguard that refuses to face this 
can never have /inaudible/ inter-racial Leninist vanguard, /almost wispering^J 
And now I see what you've been up to. You call us "petty bourgeois" in your del- 
icate little closets. 

St'ers express their appreciation of this demagogic tour~de~ force with a 
burst of loud and sustained applause. 

Comrade Jefka of CTC attacks Robertson's dismissal of Vietnam and of the 
workers 1 states in general in an analysis of the "world" situation, the St 
concept of an international, the racist caricatures of U.S. blacks and European 
gastarbeiters, the SL's confusion of the questions of self-determination under a 
bourgeois and under a workers 1 state. Some of the points that Comrade Jefka would 
have raised had time permitted (Bote the disparity between the time allowed our 
speaker here and the time allowed the SL supporter quoted earlier) on the SL's 
over-estimation of Cannon as a revolutionary leader — and their corresponding fail- 
ure to move beyond his errors — are raised in the leaflet reproduced in Appendix E. 

MYRON JEFKA (Communist Cadre) : First of all, in the beginning you wrote off the 
whole conjunctural approach — the whole approach of understanding what's going on 
in the world and on that basis organizing for the future development of the econ- 
omic crisis. You wrote off objective conditions. You said, "We're objectivistsj 
you're subjectivists" — and your whole approach is totally subjectivist. 

Now, on your attitude towards an international. If we thought that what you're 
talking about is just building an international tendency (you know there are 
three to four hundred international tendencies) — big dealt We're talking about, 
this paper /pur leaflet/ is written about a real international, not an apparatnik, 
substitutionalist international, a phony one that you can buy with money as long 
as you have money and a few collaborators in a few countries. That's not the in- 
ternational that Irotsky was trying to build. That's a disgrace to call something 
like that a Fourth International; that's an international debating society! 

Now, on this question of self-determination. In that program (where Lenin 
was for the self-determination of the Great Russians) : It was /written/ after 
the October Revolution! It was that the Great Russian peopje under the Dictatorship 
of the Proletariat /should have self-determination/. And, of course, under the Dic- 
tatorship of the Proletariat in South Africa, we would be for the self-determina- 
tion of the Boers j and, under the Dictatorship of the Proletariat in Israel we 



would be for the self-determination of the Hebrews. But under capitalism , we're 
not for the self-determination of the Maronite Christians who are slaughtering 
the Palestinians I That's the difference! If there was a socialist revolution in 
Lebanon, then they could have their self-determination. And that's the big differ- 
ence. 

Now you talk about racism. {First of all, when you talked about the conjunc- 
ture, you didn't even talk about the workers' states. So you don't have the 
Shactmanite line in words, but in deeds you have it. You didn't even mention the 
workers' states.) You slipped aside Indochina, saying there were no people in 
Thailand. You said there were 150 million people in Java. Well, there's 120 million 
people in all of Indonesia, maybe 40 million in Java, 40 million in Thailand 
and there are just that many in the workers' states in Indochina. And you didn't 
even mention them I You didn't even talk about how the Indochinese Revolution has 
changed the conjuncture, what effect it has had on the world... 

You talk about the gastarbeiters, you lump them together. It's like Sam Marcy, 
Sam Marcy says that black people aren't capable of anything better than 
Third Worldism, so we have to propitiate that; you say, "Gastarbeiters— well, 
they can't be anything better than pop-frontists." And then, you don't even dig- 
nify the black people in this country — whom you compare to gastarbeiters; at least 
you recognize the gastarbeiters as workers. The black people? Oh, no! They're 
blacks — all they can do is burn down ghettoes. Why don't you talk about the fact 
that there's a working class— it's a multi-national working class. Don't stigmatize 
the blacks and set them off from the rest of the working class. All you do is 
stereotype and lump together. 

Now your glorification of the SWP tradition really shows where you're at. _ 
You're "the real Cannonites J " ; the SWP has "betrayed Cannonism. " /Loud applause/ 
Well, Trotsky was stuck with Cannon; he couldn't do anything about him; he had to 
go along with him. Cannon didn't g_o along with Trotsky in supporting Browder in 
the 1940 presidential campaign, /put off by chaiv/ 



LITERATURE 
From Communist Cadre 



The Hammer and the Sickle 



Vol.2, Mo. 2 (Summer 1977) includes articles on: Carter's Election: Turning 
Point in US Imperialist Policy; The Proletarian Class Character of the 
Angolan State; The Popular Front Henry Wallace Campaign of 1948; Trotskyist 
Economics {Part I). 

Vol.2, No.l (February 1977) includes: Selections from "Rosa Luxemburg on the 
Collapse of Capitalism"; The Danger of Barbarism and the Necessity for 
Socialism; In Defense of Revolutionary Trotskyism; Selections from Trotsky's 
"A School for Revolutionary Strategy". 

Vol.1, Ho. 2 (November 1976) includes: Class War in Southern Africa; Lebanese 
Left and Palestinian Resistance; Racist and Fascist Attacks Increase Across 
OS; Strikes in Basic Industries. 

Vol.1, No.l (July 1976) includes: Proletarian Internationalism Endangered by 
National Revisionism; Imperialist Grip on Southern Africa Slipping; Mass 
Economic Struggles Amidst Fake Recovery; Struggle Against Neo-Nazi Moon. 

Hungary 1956: A Trotskyist Defense of the Soviet Intervention 

Includes "The Class Character of the Hungarian Uprising" by V. Grey (Vincent 
Copeland, 1957), with an introduction by Communist Cadre. 

Documents of the Vern-Ryan Tendency 

A little-known faction within the Socialist Workers Party which exposed the 
revisionist notion of "dual power within the state" put forward by the Fourth 
International and SOT leadership to explain the post-World War II overturns 
in Eastern Europe and which, like the Marcy-Copeland faction, grasped the 
significance of the Chinese Revolution. 

What the Spartacist League Really Stands For: A Self-Exposure by James Robertson 
Reprint of the speech made by leading SL member James Robertson on 
January 29, 1977 (the speech the SL wouldn't print), with a critical intro- 
duction and comments by Communist Cadre. 

Global Class War Documents — Coming Soon 

Includes "Memorandum on the Unfolding War and the Tasks of the Proletariat 
in the Coming Epoch of World (Permanent) Revolution" (1950) , and "Global Class 
War and the Destiny of American Labor" (1953) , with a critical introduction 
by Communist Cadre examining the history of the Marcy-Copeland faction in 
the Socialist Workers Party. 

The price of each pamphlet is $1.00 (except Documents of the Vern-Ryan Tendency 
~ $2.00). Include 25 cents postage with each order. 

Order from: Workers and Oppressed Unite 
156 Fifth Avenue, Room 416 
New York, New York 10010 
(212) 255-2949